Boris Johnson said in the House of Commons today that the government is:

“Cutting taxes for those on Universal Credit”

He described the same policy at another point in Prime Minister’s Questions as “lifting up Universal Credit payments by cutting the tax that people effectively pay”.

Let’s take a look.

Changing the taper

Universal Credit is a payment from the government that replaces several “legacy” benefits, including Jobseekers’ Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.

Workers on Universal Credit are subject to a “taper” – where the amount they receive in benefits goes down if they are earning more through their job.

Until recently, the taper was set at 63 per cent: for every extra pound you earned, your Universal Credit payments would be cut by 63p.

But in October, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak slashed the taper to 55p, meaning workers can now keep more of their benefit payments as their earnings rise.

The Prime Minister and his colleagues often describe this as a “tax cut”, though it’s technically a boost to benefits.

But even allowing for that, Mr Johnson’s claim in the Commons is misleading because he fails to mention one crucial fact: the change to the taper won’t do anything for the majority of Universal Credit claimants.

That’s because only 40 per cent of claimants are in work and therefore able to benefit from the policy, according to the government’s own statistics.

The taper rate change makes no difference to the remaining 60 per cent of claimants (5.3 million people) who don’t have a job.

FactCheck verdict

Boris Johnson said the government is “cutting taxes for those on Universal Credit”.

But the policy he’s talking about only applies to 40 per cent of people receiving the benefit. It won’t make a difference to the remaining 60 per cent – some 5.3 million claimants – who aren’t in work.

Downing Street was contacted for comment.