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UK's Johnson refuses to say whether welfare top-up will stay or go

Reuters WORLD
Published January 18,2021
Boris Johnson at a viewing window during a tour of the manufacturing facility for the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine at Oxford Biomedica in Oxfordshire, England, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (Heathcliff O'Malley/Pool photo via AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to answer questions on Monday about whether a top-up to welfare benefits that was introduced to help people on low incomes get through the COVID-19 pandemic would be extended beyond April.

Johnson is under pressure over the top-up, worth 20 pounds ($27) a week to recipients of the Universal Credit benefit, with the opposition Labour Party instigating a debate and symbolic vote in parliament on the issue later on Monday.

Asked four times by a reporter whether the top-up would continue after April or not, Johnson repeatedly avoided giving a yes or no answer.

"What we've said is that we will put our arms around the whole of the country," he said. "We'll keep all measures obviously under constant review." Pressed again, he said: "I think you've heard me say that we want to support people throughout the pandemic." ($1 = 0.7371 pounds)