Government not protecting poorest from rising cost of living, says charity

The government is not protecting the poorest people amid the cost-of-living crisis, with out-of-work benefits at historically low levels, a UK poverty charity has said.

The 3.1% benefits increase coming into effect on Monday 11 April does not match inflation, which is expected to hit 7.7% this month. This will cause the greatest fall in the value of the basic unemployment benefit rate in 50 years, according to analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

‘Desperate situations’

Associate director Helen Barnard told Sky News on Sunday 10 April:

Read on...

For a decade we’ve had cuts and freezes to benefits, and actually for eight of the last 10 years benefits have been losing value, so we’re already at a historic low.

Although benefits go up tomorrow, they go up by so much less than the cost of living is rising.

It means that in terms of their values, how much bread and milk you can buy in the shops, it is the biggest fall in value since 1972.

Many people were already in “desperate situations”, struggling to afford food, heating and basic hygiene products, she said. And she recounted how some pensioners are riding the bus all day to keep warm. Moreover, long-time foodbank volunteers are now themselves relying on donations.

It’s “humiliating for people”

Barnard called on the government to take urgent action to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. And she criticised Rishi Sunak for failing to support the poorest people in society. She said:

If you look at the spring statement, the Chancellor spent about £18 billion.

Of that money, about two thirds went to benefit people in the richest half of the country.

So he actually had the money, the issue is that the Government is not prioritising using the money they have to protect the poorest people who are facing the greatest hardship.

‘Too many jobs’ are low paid and insecure

The benefits squeeze will also hit low-income workers hard. These are people who rely on benefits to top up low earnings and are now facing “incredibly difficult situations”, Barnard said.

She said the raising of the national insurance threshold, a measure designed to help lower earners, actually harms some of them. Because their benefits are pulled away to make up for the fact that they are keeping more of their income.

Barnard said:

We know the majority of people in poverty now are in working households.

One of the problems is that too many jobs are not just low paid, but they’re insecure…

And so it is people who are really vulnerable in that situation when they’re working, who are also now struggling to afford the basic essentials and having to rely on charities for toothpaste and toilet rolls.

It’s humiliating for a lot of people.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us