UK not going to bring back temporary increase to state benefits -minister

·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers hold umbrellas as they walk, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Oxford Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's government is not going to bring back a temporary increase to state benefits, introduced at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, as part of plans to tackle a cost-of-living crisis, a junior finance minister said on Monday.

Britain increased Universal Credit, benefit for unemployed and low-paid people, by 20 pounds ($25) a week during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the extra payment ended in October last year in a move that affected 4.4 million households.

Some have called for it to be reinstated as surging inflation leaves many struggling to pay rising food, fuel and energy bills.

"We were always explicitly clear that was a temporary response to the pandemic," Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke told BBC Radio.

"That is not going to return. The question is how we best now look at the next range of solutions to deal with the challenges."

Last year, the government cut the "taper rate" for claimants of Universal Credit, the amount they lose as they increase their earnings from work, and Clarke said this was "precisely the kind of authentic Conservative solution to this question that we want to see".

($1 = 0.7957 pounds)

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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