Council backs calls to increase Universal Credit payments to support Chesterfield families.

Calls to permanently increase the level of Universal Credit payments to support thousands of local families on lower incomes have been backed by Chesterfield Borough Council.

A motion calling on Government to retain the current £20 uplift in payments – put in place to support people during the pandemic – was passed at a meeting of Full Council this week.

The six-month extension was announced by Government in March and now the council – supported by leaders of the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centre – has added its weight to calls for the move to be made permanent.

Councillor Amanda Serjeant, Deputy Leader of the council, proposed the motion which was unanimously passed at the meeting on Wednesday 21 July.

Cllr Serjeant said: “The Chancellor has extended the £20 uplift to Universal Credit for six months in his March budget, but unemployment is expected to continue to rise into the new year and we must do all we can to support families on low incomes.

“The Government must act now to protect people from suffering further hardship after what has already been an incredibly difficult time for many local people.

“In Chesterfield, the total number of households on Universal Credit across the borough is now over 6,700. The removal of the £20 increase would cast many more into poverty and as a council we’re committed to working with our partners to stand up for local people.”

In passing the motion, the council will:

  • Write to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, demanding that the £20 increase to Universal Credit is made permanent and extended to claimants on legacy benefits
  • Urge the Government to end the five-week wait for Universal Credit by converting advances into grants instead of loans.
  • Continue to work alongside partner organisations to provide help and assistance wherever possible to all those struggling during these difficult times.

Members of the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centre attended the meeting in a show of support for the move.

Colin Hampton, of Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centre, said: “Putting people into desperate financial circumstances costs the Government more in the long run with damage done to children as well as parents.

“The Chancellor would be best served by listening to his colleagues urging him to retain the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

“In Chesterfield this would mean keeping millions of pounds per year in the local economy helping business and aiding recovery.

“We are pleased the Chesterfield Borough Council will be raising this issue with Rishi Sunak and look forward to a positive response.”

For advice or information about the benefits – or to contact an advisor – people should visit the council’s benefits advisor page.