Following your statement last week, we are writing to you, to collectively urge you to make the temporary £20/week increase to the standard allowance of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit permanent from April, as well as extend the same uplift to ESA, Income Support and JSA.
We welcomed the swift action you took at the start of the pandemic to implement this much needed investment. Falling incomes and rising costs throughout the pandemic have put families under immense financial pressure, but the £20 uplift has been a lifeline that has enabled many of them to keep their heads above water and has stopped us seeing a marked surge in poverty levels.
However, if the uplift ends in April 2021, this good work risks being undermined. Modelling by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicates that around 16 million people will be in households facing an overnight income loss equivalent to £1,040 a year, with those on the lowest incomes and families with children being hardest hit. At a stroke, 700,000 more people will be pulled into poverty, including 300,000 children, and 500,000 more of those already in poverty will be plunged into deep poverty (more than 50% below the poverty line). We are therefore urging you to make the uplift permanent and stop families being cut adrift whilst they need help to stay afloat.
Your statement last week made clear that many families will see job losses over the months to come, and even those whose jobs are protected through the Job Support Scheme will see income cuts. Along with measures to protect jobs, we hoped to see reassurance and commitment to those who have already, or will be faced with, job and income loss. Even the most optimistic forecasts expect unemployment to surge and remain high for some time to come. We warmly welcome the government’s commitment to invest in jobs, skills and infrastructure; these will be vital to boosting opportunity across the country. However, these investments will take time and it is crucial that our social security system offers the certainty and security people need to help them stay afloat so that they are equipped to grasp every new opportunity and are protected from the damaging long term consequences of financial hardship.
Further, it is simply not right that those on legacy benefits, who are mostly sick or disabled people and carers, and so have been most at risk during this pandemic, have not been thrown an equivalent lifeline. We urge you to follow the advice of the Social Security Advisory Committee and support 1.5 million more people by applying an equivalent uplift to those on legacy benefits who have so far been excluded from increases.
Our modelling shows that the total cost of making the lifeline permanent (in addition to normal annual CPI uprating) and extending to legacy benefits would be around £9 billion a year. A significant investment but crucial for our nation’s recovery. We urge the Government to keep doing the right thing, keep families afloat and keep the lifeline.
Action for Children
The Association of Charitable Organisations
Christians Against Poverty
Church Action on Poverty
Child Poverty Action Group
Disability Benefits Consortium (a network of over 100 disability organisations)
End Child Poverty Coalition
The Equality Trust
The Fawcett Society
Greater Manchester Poverty Action
Independent Food Aid Network
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales
Macmillan Cancer Support
The Mighty Creatives
Motor Neurone Disease Association
The MS Society
National AIDS Trust
National Children’s Bureau
National Education Union
National Housing Federation
North East Child Poverty Commission
The Poverty Alliance
Rethink Mental Illness
The Rt Revd Christopher Foster, Bishop of Portsmouth
The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
The Runnymede Trust
The Salvation Army
Save the Children
Transforming Lives for Good
The Trussell Trust
Trust for London
UK Women’s Budget Group
Voluntary Organisations Disability Group
Wales Council for Voluntary Action / Cyngor Gweithredu Gwirfoddol Cymru
Women’s Regional Consortium Northern Ireland