Plaid Cymru accuse UK Gov of ‘punishing’ NHS Covid heroes
Plaid Cymru have accused the UK Government of “punishing” NHS and social care Covid heroes who are on Universal Credit.
Ben Lake MP criticised Boris Johnson, because a chunk of the bonus given to staff in Wales by the Welsh Government as a recognition for their hard work during the pandemic is set to be deducted by Westminster.
The Welsh Government introduced a financial recognition scheme for health and social care staff, granting a one-off payment of £735 for eligible full time or part time staff. After tax deductions most people will receive £500.
However, the Ceredigion MP pointed out that staff in receipt of Universal Credit are set to be “punished with a deduction of up to 63% to their Universal Credit”.
Lake also called on the Welsh Government to push for the devolution of welfare powers so that its own policy could be implemented in full.
Speaking in the House of Commons chamber during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions today, Ben Lake MP said: “NHS and social care staff in Wales are due to receive a £500 bonus in recognition of their hard work during the pandemic.
“But staff on Universal Credit stand to lose out due to the way in which the reward is recognised in regulations as earned income.
“Instead of receiving a thank you bonus at the end of the month, many NHS and social care staff will be punished with a deduction of up to 63% to their Universal Credit.
“Will the Prime Minister look to amend Regulation 55 of the Universal Credit Regulations to create an exemption to ensure that NHS and social care staff in Wales benefit fully from their well-deserved bonus?”
In response, the Prime Minister said that he would “make sure that [Ben Lake] has a meeting with the relevant minister] to set out the detail on the issue he’s raised.”
Speaking after the session, Lake added: “I am grateful for the offer of a meeting to discuss the issue.
“Sadly, the Department for Work and Pensions has so far insisted that the bonus be treated as earnings and will therefore not be exempt.
“I hope the Prime Minister’s intervention today will ensure that this position is reconsidered to ensure all NHS and social care workers will receive their well-deserved bonus in full.
“The Welsh Government must now also wake up to the urgent need for the devolution of powers over welfare to Wales.
“If the DWP fail to change their position, the First Minister must recognise that it is only by holding those powers in the Senedd that we can deliver consistent policies that will improve the lives of people in Wales.”