The Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) has today welcomed the general approach taken by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak as he delivered his Budget to the House of Commons. However, the MPF also urged the Chancellor to do more for the lowest paid.
A key pillar of Islam is the concept of Zakat – giving a minimum of 2.5% of your total savings and wealth (above a minimum amount known as Nisab) as a religious obligation. Some have argued that Zakat was the forerunner of the welfare state because it places on the better off members of society an obligation to help the poor.
The Chancellor has extended the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift for six months, but the MPF is calling on him to consolidate the pandemic premium into the benefit on a permanent basis. Six million people were receiving Universal Credit in the UK on 14th January 2021 – approximately half of whom are employed. Traditionally, benefits have been kept low in order to encourage those receiving them to take a job. However, as so many jobs have been lost during the last year (700,000 at the last count), the unemployed do not need incentives to take work – they need to wait for jobs to be created. Those who are looking for work will find losing the £20 per week very difficult. The lowest paid should not be in the front line of paying for the costs of the pandemic.
Muslim Professionals Forum Chair, Cllr Khaled Noor, said:
“Even with the extra £20 a week, more and more families are struggling to make ends meet. There are record numbers using food banks in the UK. The thought of losing that £20, even in six months’ time, must be filling families with dread. We need do adopt the “Zakir” approach – we should all embrace our duty to help the most needy.”