Sunday shows: Replacing UC uplift with one-off payment a “terrible policy”, says Labour

Elliot Chappell

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds this morning described reported government plans to replace the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit with a £500 one-off payment as a “terrible policy”.

  • On the impact of school closures: “That is why we wanted to keep schools open as long as possible. Unfortunately, the Department for Education didn’t take the steps necessary to keep them open for longer.”
  • On the failure of the government to ensure pupils can learn remotely: “To hear young people describe how they still haven’t got access to technology, haven’t got access to broadband, at this stage in the pandemic is inexcusable.”
  • On the government decision to cut UC: “If you go ahead with this cut, you are reducing out-of-work support, unemployment benefits, to their lowest real-terms level since 1992 at a time when unemployment is about to peak.”
  • On reports that the Chancellor is planning on giving families a £500 one-off payment instead of maintaining the current uplift to UC: “That is, quite frankly, a terrible policy.”
  • He added: “We’re talking about six million families being affected, those families will change throughout the year. Some will go back into work, some will come out… A one-off payment, a snapshot, completely fails to support those people.”
  • On the cut: “There is simply no reason that this cut should take place in April. It’s the wrong thing for families – £1,000 a year is like your gas, your electric, your broadband bill all rolled together. But it’s also the wrong thing for the economy.”
  • On the Commons vote on Monday on the UC uplift: “Lots of Conservative colleagues are equally worried about this and I hope they will vote with how they feel about this and therefore parliament will make the right decision.”
  • On the introduction of border restrictions for international travellers coming into the country: “I just don’t understand why it’s taken so long to put those arrangements in place.”
  • Asked whether people who travel to go on holiday are being selfish: “Let’s not try and let the government get away with blaming the public or blaming people for their personal conduct for where the pandemic response has gone wrong.”
  • Asked whether people should be put in hotels to isolate when they return to the country: “If that is the most effective way to tackle that, I’d look at it. I’m not sure necessarily that is the case.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told viewers this morning that the country can “hopefully by March” be “phased out of lockdown through the tiered approach” but warned those watching that it would not be done in one “big bang”.

He said the government “should” be able to deliver a second dose of the vaccination to people within 12 weeks of the first, but added: “Right the way through this pandemic we’ve had to adapt to all sorts of different things.”

The Andrew Marr Show

Dominic Raab discussed the roll-out of the Covid vaccine and defended the government decision to scrap the £20-per-week uplift to UC, introduced last year, arguing that it was “always a temporary measure”.

  • Asked whether the government can vaccinate every adult by June: “The entire adult population, we want to have been offered the first jab by September – that’s the roadmap… If it can be done more swiftly, then that’s a bonus.”
  • Asked whether the UK should be implementing a 24-hour vaccination programme: “We need to be doing it at the maximum capacity that is deliverable. So, in terms of the 24/7 idea, that is something that will be piloted.”
  • On vaccine targets: “The aim is, by the middle of February, to have 88% of those most at risk of dying of coronavirus with their first jab and by the early spring to have 99%.”
  • On removing the Covid restrictions: “When we get to a situation in the early spring, perhaps March, if we’ve succeeded in hitting those targets… we can start to think about the phased transition out of the national lockdown.”
  • On the new variants: “We’ve got to get the genomic sequencing and the analysis done to see whether they a) are more fatal in terms of their impact on people that suffer from coronavirus. Secondly, do they undermine the vaccines?”
  • Asked whether the government will require travellers to quarantine in hotels when they enter the country: “We’ll keep other potential measures under review.”
  • On the £20-per-week increase in the standard rate of Universal Credit, which the government has decided to cut: “It was always a temporary measure.”
  • On the decision to reduce the benefit during the pandemic: “Strategically, and in terms of providing holistically the most comprehensive support for the most vulnerable communities, it is the right approach to take.”
  • On China and persecution of Uighur Muslims: “Frankly, we shouldn’t be engaged in free trade negotiations with countries abusing human rights well below the level of genocide.”

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