Government not tackling injustice of poverty in the UK

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has today responded to the Chancellor’s Spring Statement in which no action was taken to end the benefits freeze despite it sweeping many families deeper into poverty.

The benefits freeze continuing for another year will now leave families £560 worse off on average - equivalent to three months of food shopping for an average low-income family.

The Prime Minister also responded to a question about child poverty at PMQs by trying to deflect attention from rising poverty rates and onto workless households.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation said:

“The Government should have shown today that it is serious about tackling the rising tide of poverty in the UK. Instead they chose not to end the freeze on benefits leaving families in poverty to face rising costs and bear all the risks of economic uncertainty, especially if we leave the EU without a deal.

“When asked about rising child poverty earlier in the day, the Prime Minister tried to shift the focus onto the issue of workless households, suggesting a Government out of touch with the tough realities of many lives in the UK. In-work poverty is now rising faster than employment yet the Government has opted not to help the 3 .2 million children in low income working families who would benefit from an early end to the freeze.

“The Treasury has offered some funding on projects to tackle period poverty – but these are the symptoms of a bigger issue – poverty itself. Families in poverty have been cut adrift. The Government can buy itself time by asking to extend Article 50 – working families can’t get an extension to meet the essential costs of family life”.

Ashley, 42, told us as part of our briefing ahead of the Spring Statement:

“Benefit rates may have been frozen for the last four years, but energy prices, food, clothing and transport costs have all continued to rise. How can we claim to be a compassionate society when we are allowing the most vulnerable and in need, to be continuously pushed further into the grip of poverty. We need action now, as things are already totally unbearable.”