The rise in Universal Credit seen during the coronavirus pandemic “is not going to return” to help people through the cost of living crisis, a minister has said.

The government has faced calls from Conservatives and the private sector for the £20 weekly increase to be reinstated to help assist with living costs as the cost of living soars.

Michael Lewis, chief executive of energy giant E.ON UK, said on Sunday that increasing benefits payments would ease the pressure on those dealing with increased energy bills and soaring inflation which is driving up shop prices.

However, Simon Clarke, chief secretary to the Treasury, said ministers will not be reintroducing the uplift, which was scrapped in the autumn as part of a winding-down of state Covid support.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “On that question, we were always explicitly clear that was a temporary response to the pandemic.

“That is not going to return. The question is how we best now look at the next range of solutions to deal with the challenges we’re facing.”

The Treasury minister instead pointed to how Chancellor Rishi Sunak has already lowered the taper rate for UC. This is the rate at which benefits start to reduce as a claimant earns money.

“We took decisive action back in December with the change to the taper rate – that is to say the rate at which benefits are withdrawn as people’s earnings rise -, and we cut that from 63p in the pound to 55p in the pound,” he added.

“That’s a tax cut worth an average of £1,000 to two million of the lowest earners in society.”

He described the taper rate action as “precisely the kind of authentic Conservative solution to this question that we want to see” as ministers consider how next to respond to growing household budget pressures.