JRF responds to the Prime Minister's speech on welfare reform

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:

“David Cameron is right to incentivise work to tackle the high costs of welfare. Despite making £17bn of cuts to welfare over the last Parliament, spending on benefits remained the same as the Government was forced to plug the growing gap caused by low wages, high rents and several years of rising living costs – the real causes of a high welfare bill. 

 “Government pledges to protect pensions means that benefits which help the working poor or those unable to work face deep reductions. Tax Credits are a vital tool to prevent people’s incomes slipping so low that their health, education and prospects are damaged.

 “To deliver on the Government’s ambition to reduce the welfare bill productivity needs to be improved, employers need to pay higher wages, more affordable housing needs to be built, and the markets need to make sure the poorest people are not disadvantaged.   Addressing these causes will help reduce the need for people on low incomes to rely on tax credits to support their incomes. Cutting welfare in isolation, without addressing the causes of poverty in the UK,  will mean many families on low incomes will face increased hardship and insecurity.”