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New analysis shows vast scale of impact across parliamentary constituencies if benefits don’t rise by inflation

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JRF has used the latest official data to produce a comprehensive analysis of which parliamentary constituencies will be most affected if the Government chooses not uprate means tested benefits such as Universal Credit in line with inflation. Suggested plans to increase only in line with earnings – at 6% according to today’s data - would subject these voters to the biggest real-terms permanent cut ever made in a single year. Our analysis shows:

  • More than 2/3rds of MPs, or 7 in 10, (445) represent areas where at least one fifth (20%) of working-age families receive means tested benefits
  • These include 193 Conservative seats, 180 Labour and 34 SNP.
  • This increases to at least 24% in all the so called ‘Red Wall’ seats.
  • Every constituency has at least one in ten working- age families who would be affected by the suggested cut
  • This includes 21% of working-age families in Liz Truss’s SW Norfolk constituency
  • Child benefit could also be cut, affecting 80% of children across the UK

Five constituencies could see at least half of all working-age families having their finances upended if the cut goes ahead; Bradford East, Bradford West, Birmingham Hodge Hill – all Labour-held - and Belfast North and West, represented by Sinn Féin.

Areas in Wales where the highest share of working-age families will be affected by a potential uprating cut include Merthyr Tydfil and Rhyney, Rhondda and Cynon Valley, where around 35% of families are affected. In Scotland, Glasgow South West, Glasgow East and Glasgow North East are most affected, with almost 40% of working-age families affected in those constituencies.

The constituency with the highest percentage of affected families was Labour-held Birmingham Hodge Hill where 61% of families receiving these benefits were at risk of losing out if their benefits don’t go up with prices.

Katie Schmuecker, JRF Principal Policy Adviser, said:

“Politicians should think long and hard about the impact of withholding hundreds of pounds from thousands of families in their constituencies when the basic rate of benefits is already at its lowest in real terms for 40 years and prices are sky-high.

“We know millions of families have already gone without the essentials this year, missing meals, not cooking hot food or having hot showers. We know people have gone into arrears on their bills or taking on debt to pay for the basics. It is unconscionable that the government should be considering cutting their ability to pay for what they need. The Government must realise how catastrophic it would be to refuse to respect their own party’s pledge to make sure the value of benefits keeps up with prices.

“The majority of people agree the right thing to do is help the most vulnerable during this extraordinary crisis. The impact will be felt across every constituency in the UK. Now is the time for all MPs to stand up and be counted."

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