I commend the good work Centrepoint is doing during the coronavirus outbreak. The points raised about the challenges faced by some young people are very moving.
Universal Credit was designed to simplify the benefits system with a focus on helping people into work and supporting their in-work progression. Having a simplified benefits systems has been hugely beneficial during this crisis and has allowed much of the focus to be on bolstering the existing system, not trying to reinvent it. Differential rates are paid according to peoples’ individual circumstances and age, although I would emphasise that the Department for Work and Pensions has temporarily increased the standard allowance in UC for all claimants. I would also add that additional amounts which provide for specific needs such as children or disability are paid at a standard rate in addition to the standard allowance, irrespective of age.
I welcome the decision announced at the 2021 Autumn Budget to reduce the UC taper rate from 63 per cent to 55 per cent, as well as increasing work allowances in UC by £500 a year. These changes to UC represent an effective tax cut for low income working households in receipt of UC worth £2.2 billion in 2022-23. I believe this will be of real benefit to UC claimants under 25.
As a component of the Plan for Jobs, the £2 billion Kickstart scheme puts young people right at the heart of our economic recovery by supporting 16-24 year olds at risk of long term unemployment into paid, six month placements across the private, public and voluntary sectors. We know that for young people a lack of real-world work experience can be a barrier to getting a foot on the jobs ladder, so I am fully supportive of the decisive action Government is taking to help young people gain experience, build skills and boost their career prospects. I am delighted to hear that 69,000 young people have started Kickstart roles.
I hope this reassures you that supporting young people is a key priority and is certainly something I will continue to champion in Parliament.