People receiving Universal Credit are set to be given an extra £20 a week for the next six months to help them deal with the hardships of the pandemic, it has been reported.

Rishi Sunak is preparing to announce an extension to his temporary coronavirus support scheme for all those on benefits until the autumn, according to The Sun.

Claimants were initially only expected to receive the extra cash until April, sparking a vocal campaign by debt charities to stop it being taken away.

It was feared that the removal of the boost before the end of lockdown would risk plunging thousands of families into more debt.

Now, the chancellor appears to have had a change of heart and is apparently set to announce the extension in his budget this afternoon.

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The boost is worth a total of £1,040 a year to low-income households. It is paid to all Universal Credit recipients, regardless of how much they claim.

Some 2.8million more Brits were forced to claim benefits in January, compared to the same month in 2020, in large part because of the pandemic.

Lockdown has forced much of the economy to close for prolonged periods and several businesses have gone under after profits dried up due to the crisis.

The Treasury had been resisting calls to extend the £20 weekly payment beyond April as it’s reported to be costing £6billion a year.

Mr Sunak, who became chancellor a year ago, is outlining his second full Budget in the Commons from 12.30pm. His time in office has been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Other measures expected to be announced include an extension to the furlough scheme and the upper-limit of contactless payments will be increased to £100.

MORE: What Rishi Sunak is expected to say in Budget 2021

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