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24th Sep 2021

Boris Johnson repeatedly refuses to say if he could live on Universal Credit

Charlie Herbert

Boris Johnson refuses to answer whether he could live off Universal Credit

The government is cutting universal credit by £20 a week

Boris Johnson refused to say whether he would be able to live on the basic payment of Universal Credit.

Speaking to reporters during his trip to the US this week, the Prime Minister was asked if he could live on £118 a week, the base amount that those on Universal Credit, and defended his government’s plan to remove the £20 increase to the benefit that was introduced in April 2020.

Asked by the Mirror if he could live on Universal Credit, Johnson responded: “I have every sympathy for people who are finding it tough, I really, really do – but we have to recognise that in order to maintain the Covid uplift you’ve got to find another £5-6bn in tax.

“That has got to come out of some people’s pockets.

“Then I would just point out that the best solution is to continue to invest in people’s skills, to make sure that they are getting the type of jobs that reward their hard work – and you’re starting to see that, you’re starting to see wages go up, and that’s what we want to see.”

He continued: “Wages are now rising faster than they have been for a long time, and the philosophy of this government is to try to deliver a high-wage, high-skill economy in which we invest in people, we invest in capital, we encourage businesses to put their profits back into people, back into the capital of the business, in order to drive productivity gain.

“And if you look at the UK since 2008, you look at our companies, they’ve been paying very low wages and they’ve been not investing, and productivity has fallen.”

When pressed again on whether he himself would be able to survive on £118 a week though, the PM said: “It means that we want to support families in the best possible way.”

He then swerved the question for a third time when it was suggested that his answer could be seen as him saying he couldn’t live off Universal Credit, telling the reporter: “Those are your words.”

The government have come under fire for the cut to Universal Credit, with many Tory MPs and peers unhappy with the cut.

Research from the Legatum Institute thinktank suggests that more than 800,000 people could be in poverty as a result of the cut.

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