Boris Johnson has refused to say whether he could live on the usual Universal Credit payment.
The Prime Minister was asked if he could get by on just £118 a week – the standard UC allowance for a couple over 25 after UC is slashed next month.
It came as he again snubbed calls to maintain the £20-a-week rise for six million of the poorest families – despite mounting warnings of looming hardship and poverty.
Asked if he could live on £118 a week, the PM insisted: “I have every sympathy for people who are finding it tough, I really, really do – but we have to recognise that in order to maintain the Covid uplift you’ve got to find another £5-6bn in tax.
“That has got to come out of some people’s pockets.
Then I would just point out that the best solution is to continue to invest in people’s skills, to make sure that they are getting the type of jobs that reward their hard work – and you’re starting to see that, you’re starting to see wages go up, and that’s what we want to see.
Wages are now rising faster than they have been for a long time, and the philosophy of this government is to try to deliver a high-wage, high-skill economy in which we invest in people, we invest in capital, we encourage businesses to put their profits back into people, back into the capital of the business, in order to drive productivity gain – and if you look at the UK since 2008, you look at our companies, they’ve been paying very low wages and they’ve been not investing, and productivity has fallen.”
Pressed again if that meant he could not live on £118 a week, he again swerved answering, claiming: “It means that we want to support families in the best possible way.”
Mr Johnson trousered £275,000-a-year writing a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph before entering No10.