CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak needs to act swiftly to ensure the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit continues into the spring and summer as the virus continues to have a knock-on effect on the economy.

Kevin Hollinrake, the Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on poverty which said that if the increase were to be withdrawn, 683,000 families in the UK, which include 824,000 children, would be unable to afford the basics of life. Those families' fingerhold keeping them above the waterline is so fragile that the withdrawal of that £20-a-week will plunge them into poverty. Mr Hollinrake himself concluded: "There is a compelling case for making the uplift permanent."

He urged that there should be a debate on how the £6bn annual cost of this should be funded. It is a lot of money, but it is the poorest in society that will bear the brunt of the removal, and we all know that there is a link between poverty and poor health which, eventually will put a greater toll on the NHS.

Mr Hollinrake's Yorkshire neighbour is the Chancellor Rishi Sunak. No one underestimates the enormity of some of the decisions Mr Sunak will have to make in his Budget on March 3 but this is one he needs to announce sooner rather than later - it is unfair on those families who are struggling to budget to not know what their income is going to be in April, and whether they'll be able to feed their children adequately.