Wigan people to benefit from major tax cut for Universal Credit claimants

More than 10,000 working Universal Credit claimants in Wigan will be able to keep more of the benefit as part of a major tax cut, figures suggest.
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his latest Budget that the taper rate, the tax on a claimant’s payment for every £1 that they earn above their work allowance, will be cut from 63 to 55 per cent within weeks, to “reward work” of low-income families.

Department for Work and Pensions data shows 39 per cent of the 31,205 Universal Credit claimants across Wigan were in work as of August 12 – the latest available figures.

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It means the tax burden on 12,107 claimants in the area will be eased when the move comes into effect before December 1.

Universal CreditUniversal Credit
Universal Credit

Of the claimants in work as of mid-August, the largest number (2,314) were aged between 30 and 34.

Mr Sunak has faced some criticism that the taper rate cut does not compensate for the £20-a-week blanket reduction in Universal Credit in early October, or help people who are not in work.

In Wigan, roughly 19,100 Universal Credit claimants were not in work as of August 12.

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Announcing the changes to the Commons, Mr Sunak said: “This is a £2bn tax cut for the lowest paid workers in our country.

“It supports working families, it helps with the cost of living and it rewards work.”

The changes mean that nearly 2 million families across the UK will keep on average an extra £1,000 a year, he said.

But responding to the Budget, Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said “never has a Chancellor asked the British people to pay so much for so little”.

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She said: “After taking £6bn out of the pockets of some of the poorest people in this country, he is expecting them to cheer at being given £2bn to compensate.”

Thomas Lawson, chief executive of anti-poverty charity Turn2us, said the changes are “welcome steps” to make sure people on low incomes keep more of their wages.

However, he added: “For single parents and others with caring responsibilities the benefits will be smaller, and for people unable to work at all, this will do nothing to help with the rising cost of living.”

The number of people on Universal Credit across Great Britain has risen substantially during the pandemic.

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In March 2020, some three million people were on the means-tested benefit, but by August this year that figure was at 5.8 million – a 93 per cent increase.

In Wigan, the number of claimants rose by 66 per cent, from 18,758 in March last year.

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