Chris Birt, Associate Director at JRF said:
"A decade of cuts and freezes to benefits have left many people in our society in increasingly desperate situations as their incomes haven't kept pace with the cost of living. With the price of food, clothing, transport and energy growing fast and overall inflation now at 7%, the impact of these policy choices is becoming ever starker. We hear of people unable to cook the food they rely on from food banks as they cannot afford to switch on the oven or hob; families limiting themselves to one shower per week; and elderly people riding buses all day to stay warm.
"These terrible situations are not inevitable. Our social security system is designed to deliver financial support to people who need it most; the Chancellor has simply refused to use it. He has chosen not to act to protect the value of benefits, resulting in the single biggest benefit cut of its kind in fifty years. His failure to recognise the seriousness of the situation will lead to more people being sucked into the kind of grinding daily hardship that is very difficult to escape.
"The government must, at a minimum, ensure that benefit rises match the real rise in living costs as an immediate first step to protect people from hardship. Beyond this, the government needs to further strengthen our social security system, which was already woefully inadequate even before the cost of essentials began to shoot up.”