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Sir Keir Starmer has been grilled on his former support for “abolishing” the Universal Credit scheme. The Labour leader had been asking the Prime Minister about the Government’s repeated failures to close gaps in coronavirus support for the self-employed. However, during PMQs, Boris Johnson took the opportunity to point out Sir Keir’s support for the pandemic uprating of the benefit.
He said: “Unquestionably this pandemic has been hard on the people of this country.
“And unquestionably there are people who have suffered throughout the pandemic, and people who’s livelihoods have suffered.
“But we have done everything we possibly can to help.
“As for the self-employed, 2.6million of them have received support across to £13billion, quite right.”
Mr Johnson continued: “We’ve also, of course, uprated Universal Credit. That will continue until next year,
“He now champions Universal Credit by the way, and calls for the uprating to be extended.
“He stood on a manifesto to abolish Universal Credit.”
The 2019 Labour manifesto pledged to axe Universal Credit and introduce a series of “emergency reforms”.
The benefit scheme has come under fire repeatedly, with many citing the five-week wait for a first payment as a main driver in the rise of emergency food parcels.
Universal Credit received an additional £20-a-week boost to help low-income Britons cope with the extra cost of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is slated to come to an end in April 2021.
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The Government has a support scheme for self-employed workers who have been financially affected by the virus.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) allows those eligible to claim a taxable grant of a certain percentage of their average monthly trading profits.
The grant is paid out in a single instalment covering three months.
A third round of SEISS has been introduced due to the second national lockdown.
Britons have been allowed to apply for the grant from November 30.
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