Claire Ainsley, Executive Director of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:
“The test for levelling up the country is whether it helps those who are locked out of opportunities to boost their standards of living. This budget was a strong start, but there’s still more to do to target support where it’s needed most.
“The rise in the National Living Wage by 2024 must be followed up with ambitious ongoing plans for skills, jobs, social security and housing if the Government is to show that it is serious about breaking poverty’s grip on families around the UK.
“Infrastructure spending is welcome and is a crucial element of levelling up, as is reorienting spending to the places and people that need it most. People and skills need investment too and this Budget must be the start of a government-wide focus on delivering routes out of poverty for families throughout the UK.
“The first Budget of this new decade rightly focuses on using our public services – social security and the health service – to support people who may be at risk from the health and economic effects of the coronavirus.
“Removing the minimum income floor from Universal Credit and reducing time before claiming employment and support allowance will help self-employed workers, especially those on low incomes or in precarious jobs who are affected by the spread of coronavirus. We also need action on the five-week wait for people who need to claim Universal Credit so that it provides a lifeline during a challenging time for our nation.
“Our social security system can be the key to unlocking poverty’s constraints on families, especially those with children who are struggling to get by. Boosting this would be much more effective than the changes to the National Insurance thresholds”.