It’s official: austerity will hit families harder than ever imagined

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Sophia Akram

As reported in The Canary, five different benefit cuts introduced by ex-Chancellor George Osborne will come into effect this week. That’s not good news. But it’s now followed by another awful revelation.

New research suggests the impact of a four-year freeze on working age benefits is going to be much worse than calculated.

Underestimated

A four-year freeze on working age benefits came into force in April 2016 as part of the Tory austerity agenda. And new House of Commons research reveals that the expected impact of these cuts is £4bn worse than previously estimated.

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The Independent wrote:

due to rising inflation, the measure introduced last year is now expected to reduce support by £13bn over the next four years, compared with the recent official Government forecast, of £9bn.

The freeze affects Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Benefit and other working tax credits. 11 million families were expected to be impacted by the cap. Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams said the further cut will put pressure on “the living standards of millions of families”.

A stark picture

This shows that despite already dire predictions about the affects of austerity, the true picture is starker than imagined.

Recently, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott also pointed to Commons research. Detailing the impact of all social welfare reforms, she wrote:

This includes everything from child allowance, to personal independence payments to the continued freeze on most working age benefits. These measures amount to over £15.5bn in further annual cuts or ‘savings’. This is a one-year total and of course is much higher over the entire parliament.

Meanwhile, former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith warned in 2016 that the freeze could hit people harder due to high inflation.

A Government spokesman said:

By cutting taxes for millions of people; giving the lowest earners a pay rise with the National Living Wage; doubling free childcare for nearly 400,000 parents and freezing fuel duty, we are helping people who need it most.

Whether the government saw the actual impact coming or overlooked an obvious consideration of every day economics, one thing is clear. People in need of support to begin with will now receive even less money, while their own bills go up due to inflation.

And that is a very dark picture indeed.

Get Involved

– Take action with the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

Featured image via Flickr

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