The decision to extend the £20 uplift in universal credit for just six months has been criticised by a leading charity.

Save the Children in Wales said that while the extension would provide some help for families in the short term, children and their struggling parents will continue to face the prospect of having their incomes slashed in a few months’ time – just as furlough is ending, when people would be most at risk of losing their jobs.

Melanie Simmonds, head of Save the Children in Wales said: "It provides no support to the 2 million people receiving so-called ‘legacy’ benefits, who missed out on the first benefits uplift and have been left to struggle throughout this crisis with no additional help. 

"The £20 per week uplift to universal credit was a welcome step taken by UK government to support people on low incomes through the pandemic and recognised that people who had lost work during the pandemic needed extra financial support.

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“Yet as furlough ends, hundreds of thousands of people will sadly lose their jobs over the next few months and will be in urgent need of a helping hand. It is this very group of people who have lost their jobs that the UK government deemed necessary to help less than a year ago and yet it plans to remove this lifeline from them at the point they will need it the most.

"Families we work with in Wales through our partners on the ground tell us they rely on the uplift to help them pay for food, bills and other essential items for their children.

“Taking this lifeline away could be the difference between children having enough food to eat or having to go without meals. This pandemic is far from over, and we know that families need long-term support that allows them to plan and budget effectively. Extending the uplift for the next year would provide families with more certainty about their incomes and help support the economy through the difficult year ahead.”

Simmonds said all families with children deserve the security of knowing there is enough money for the food shop each week.

"Now is the time to reassure families and their children by extending the uplift to Universal Credit for at least a year and to include those on legacy benefits,” she said.