Charities today urged Boris Johnson to extend the temporary £20-a-week Universal Credit rise after MPs overwhelmingly backed the move.
Six Tory rebels joined opposition parties in supporting an extension after March as Britain tackles the coronavirus pandemic – piling pressure on the Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson is refusing to guarantee the £1,040-a-year hike will continue – and says plans will be announced in the coming weeks.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation director Helen Barnard said: “The Government is at risk of being out of step with the public on this issue if it does not act.
“None of us want to live in a country where more and more people need to turn to food banks or where millions of children start their lives in poverty.
“A strong social security system supports people in and out of work to achieve a decent life. We must make the uplift to Universal Credit permanent or we risk causing another damaging decade of hardship.”
Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said: “The pandemic and its economic fallout are far from over and families are looking to the Government to provide some security of income and some certainty so that they can plan for the future.
“In dodging a decision on the Universal Credit uplift the Government failed to provide that security and certainty.”
Scope’s executive director of strategy James Taylor said the “vote demonstrates the support across political parties for providing much needed security to millions of people by extending the uplift”.
He added: “The £20 uplift in Universal Credit introduced last year has been an enormous help to those hit hardest by the pandemic.
“Now, 10 months later, the UK’s economic situation is far worse and many disabled people have been plunged into financial difficulty; 59 % of the public support making the uplift permanent beyond April.”
Tories were ordered to abstain on Monday night’s vote but the Prime Minister was hit by a backbench revolt as half a dozen of his MPs sided with Keir Starmer’s party in pushing for an extension – which the Commons supported by 278 votes to 0.
While the symbolic vote is not binding and families relying on the rise remain in limbo, it increases pressure on the PM to reverse the looming cut.
No10 tried to quell the rebellion by signalling Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is due to deliver a Budget on March 3, was poised to act “in the weeks to come”.