MARCUS Rashford has today urged Rishi Sunak not to stop extra Universal Credit payments in April and has argued that “kids can’t live to deadlines”.
The Manchester United and England star, 23, said he is “really concerned” that families are “counting down the days until help is taken away from them”.
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Rashford, who successfully petitioned for children from poor families to get free school meals earlier this year, asked the Chancellor if is stopping the initiative next year.
In April, Mr Sunak announced that Universal Credit claimants would receive an extra £20 weekly boost to their payments – a total of more than £1,000 annually.
The move was rolled out as a temporary measure for 12 months and millions of claimants won’t find out if the boost will be extended until next year.
This prompted the 23-year-old to write on Twitter: “@RishiSunak is the Universal Credit uplift going to be taken away in April?”
He added: “I’m really concerned that families are constantly counting down the days until help is taken away from them.
“The need for long-term change is massive. Children cannot be living to deadlines.
“We have to stabilise these households. 2.5 million will be unemployed in Spring. Because of a global pandemic that is completely out of their control.”
The Chancellor was expected to confirm if this boost would extend beyond April as part of his Spending Review today, but this wasn’t announced.
The Sun understands that a decision won’t be made now until next year.
The need for long-term change is massive. Children cannot be living to deadlines.”
For a single Universal Credit claimant, who’s 25 or older, the standard allowance increased from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.
This amounts to an extra £92.07 per month, or £1,104.84 per year.
The standard allowance is set at different levels for those who are under 25 or for those who are in a couple.
The Universal Credit boost was only supposed to last for 12 months but MPs, charities and campaigners have been calling on the government to extend it.
Commenting on the failure to address the benefit today, Becca Lyon, head of child poverty at Save the Children, said: “The pandemic has put families on low incomes under huge financial pressure.
“The £20-a-week boost to Universal Credit introduced at the start of the crisis made a real difference to some of the country’s poorest children.
“It’s hugely disappointing that the UK government has decided not to reassure families today that they will not lose this increase to their benefits from April next year.”
Earlier this month, Rashford said it was the greatest moment of his life when the Government gave in over free school meals.
The England and Man United hero said the outpouring of support for his free meals in school holidays campaign had shown the “power of kindness and compassion”.
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He said it had forced Boris Johnson to meet his demands to ensure the poorest could pay bills and put food on the table during the Covid crisis this Christmas.
Marcus added: “Seeing the role everyone has played in supporting our most vulnerable children has been the greatest moment of my life.”
Rashford, awarded an MBE for his efforts, said his campaign had “shown that when it comes down to the wire, we will always have each other”.