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‘Empty nest’ couples and people without children robbed of benefit boost, says UNISON

Low-paid working couples who receive benefits and whose children have left home will be denied a pay boost by the Chancellor, UNISON said today (Wednesday).

Childless people on universal credit will be losers too despite the increase announced in yesterday’s Budget to the work allowance – the monthly amount employees can keep before their benefits are affected.

Only those with disabilities, or parents with current responsibilities for children, will be eligible for the work allowance rise, in a move described by UNISON as ‘underhand’.

Around two thirds of current universal credit claimants needing support with housing costs will be affected, according to UNISON. It means they will hardly gain at all from the national minimum wage rise, which is to go up from £7.83 an hour to £8.21 next April.

Instead, nearly their entire annual pay rise – now worth more than £3,000 a year – will go straight into Treasury coffers. A tiny proportion – less than 10% – of this hard-earned money will end up in their pay packets despite rising rents, says UNISON.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Philip Hammond hasn’t gone far enough. He needs to help people and couples without children too and those whose families have left home.

“If the Chancellor wants to support the poorest, he needs to increase work allowances for everyone.”

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