Chancellor has abandoned many to the threat of destitution, not economic security - JRF responds to Spring Statement

Dave Innes, Head of Economics at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:

“Security is only real if it’s for everyone - the choices the Chancellor has made today won’t deliver any security for those at the sharpest end of this crisis, instead he has abandoned many to the threat of destitution.

“The Chancellor has acted recklessly in pressing ahead with a second real-terms cut to benefits in six months, while prioritising people on middle and higher incomes.

“Changes to National Insurance won’t help those who aren’t working or can’t work due to disability, illness or caring responsibilities, and exposes them to an increased risk of becoming destitute. This means they will face regularly going without absolute essentials such as food, energy and basic hygiene products.

“We can’t build a strong or secure economy by weakening the incomes of the poorest. With benefits reaching their lowest level in real terms since 1985, the Chancellor had ample opportunity with his increased headroom to uprate them in line with inflation to protect those most at risk.

“The Household Support Fund is a drop in the ocean when we consider the number of people who will reach crisis point in the coming months, from the pressure of energy bills alone.

“The Chancellor has asked us to judge him on his actions over the past two years, and while some of his previous choices have helped the worst off, he now risks plunging many into destitution.

“Make no mistake – this dire situation will leave millions in despair as a direct consequence of the Chancellor’s irresponsible choices today”.