Britons are split on whether the government should end universal credit top up

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
August 12, 2021, 9:46 AM UTC

The public are twice as likely to say universal credit payments are too low as too high

The government has announced that it will phase out the £20-a-week universal credit top up this autumn. It has been in place since the start of the pandemic. This has prompted criticism from six Conservative former work and pensions secretaries who have urged the chancellor not to end the “vital” uplift.  

The public are divided on the issue, with two in five Britons (38%) supporting the move, while an equal share (39%) oppose it.

Public opinion falls notably along party lines. Approaching two thirds of Conservative voters (63%) are in favour of ending the £20 top-up, which is being paid out to more 5.5 million households in the UK claiming universal credit. Only one in five (20%) oppose it.

Nearly identical shares of Labour voters are of the opposite opinion, with 61% against ending the higher payments, while 20% support it.

Britons more likely to think benefits are not generous enough than too lavish

Three in ten people (31%) say universal credit payments tend to be ‘not generous enough’ – twice as many as those saying they are ‘too generous’ (15%). Another fifth of the public believe they are about right (22%), while a third (33%) are unsure.

Predictably, this issue separates those on the left from those on the right. But Labour voters are much more likely to say benefit payments are too low than Tory voters are to say they’re too high.

Half of Labour-supporting Britons (52%) say universal credit payments are ‘not generous enough’ – a view shared by 14% of Conservative voters. Meanwhile, one in four Tory supporters (27%) believe they are ‘too generous’, echoed by a mere one in twenty Labour voters (5%).

Another 30% of Conservative supporters and 17% of Labour voters say universal credit payments are about right.

See the full results here