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Cost of living

Not heating, eating or meeting bills: managing a cost of living crisis on a low income

JRF is calling on the Government to immediately stop deducting debt repayments from benefits at unaffordable rates, and to strengthen our social security safety net so that people aren’t forced to choose between going without the essentials or getting into debt.

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This new JRF research looks at the precarious position of the worst-off 40% of households at the moment the Chancellor announced his May 2022 cost of living support package.


  • The Government must immediately stop deducting benefits at unaffordable rates, which further reduces the already low level of support available to families. And it shouldn't be taking deductions to repay central Government (DWP/HMRC) debts at higher rates than it expects for other creditors:
  1. The cap on total deductions from the Standard Allowance of Universal Credit should be lowered from 25% to 15%.
  2. Within this, deductions to repay debt to central government should be capped at 5% of the Standard Allowance.
  • The Government should increase basic Universal Credit entitlements to ensure it always, at a minimum, enables people to afford the essentials when they fall on hard times.
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This briefing is part of the cost of living topic.

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