Research carried out by the Fabian Society has found there is widespread backing for permanently retaining the £20 a week Covid boost to universal credit from the British public.

There is also support for more generous social security benefits for disabled people, carers and young adults.

The year-long study of public attitudes to welfare reveals large support for increasing universal credit for about 4.6m households across the UK, at a cost of £17bn a year.

The citizens’ jury and national poll demonstrated strong public support for increasing benefits for disabled people, carers of disabled people, young people aged 18 to 24, and single parents.

Powers over welfare are not devolved to the Welsh Government, meaning decisions on benefits such as Universal Credit are retained by the UK Government in Westminster.

In March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget announced that the £20 a week increase in universal credit payments, introduced toward the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020, will be extended for another six months.

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Campaigners have argued throughout the pandemic that the £20 increase should be made permanent.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says households would have faced a loss of around £1,040 a year if the increase was scrapped.

The Welsh Government also backs the uplift being made permanent.

Responding to the latest research, UK Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary in Westminster, Jonathan Reynolds, told The Guardian: “This report confirms that there is strong public support for a social security system in the UK that offers a decent safety net to all.

“The pandemic has shown universal credit to be inadequate, leaving too many people to fall through the gaps.

“These findings will make an important contribution to Labour’s plans for a replacement of universal credit which guarantees a proper standard of living and makes work pay.”

The £20 uplift will remain in place until at least the autumn, with the chancellor expected to update his plans for the benefit then.

It is expected to be a major challenge to the UK Treasury and Mr Sunak, with over 100 Tory MPs backing making the increase permanent. 

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