Trussell Trust and CPAG respond to Spring Statement

By agency reporter
March 14, 2019

Responding to the Chancellor's Spring Statement, the Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said: “We’re disappointed by today’s Spring Statement, which does not end austerity as promised. The Chancellor has missed a real opportunity to do the right thing and give people on the lowest incomes financial support and certainty before Brexit.

“Our benefits system was created to make sure proper support would be in place for each other when help was most needed. But right now, more and more people across Britain are struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford food and facing hunger as a result. This isn’t right.

“We have seen a record demand in food bank use – our network gave out 1.3 million three-day parcels in the last year, a 13 per cent increase in need. The key driver for this rise was incomes not covering the cost of essentials – and the majority of these incomes came through benefits.

“By failing to end the benefits freeze and five week wait for Universal Credit, thousands more people will become trapped in poverty and may be forced to a food bank as a result.

“The Government needs to put money back into the pockets of people who have lost the most to austerity. Ending poverty and hunger in the UK shouldn’t be sidelined – the time to act is now.”

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said it was dismayed that the Spring Statement did not bring an end to the freeze on working age benefits, despite cross-party calls for the policy to stop.

Chief Executive of CPAG Alison Garnham said: “Struggling families are desperate for an end to the freeze on working age benefits, but this Spring Statement leaves them out in the cold once again. Already the freeze has saved the Treasury more than was ever intended, so there can be no ongoing justification for these ‘stealth cuts’ that mean that the poorest in society have borne the heaviest burden from paying off the deficit.

“Today, the Chancellor could have sent a lifeline to low-income families. That he didn’t is evidence of Ministers’ refusal to confront the reality that families have been left with too little money to live on after three long years of stagnant incomes and rising prices. Funding sanitary products for girls in schools may help with one small area of expenditure, but this will have a minimal impact on poverty overall. It leaves in tatters the Prime Minister’s claim that austerity is over.

“As a country we want all families to prosper but the freeze has left low earners and those who can’t work, out in the cold.  Child poverty rates risk reaching a record high by the end of this Parliament with two hundred thousand children tipped into poverty as a result of the freeze on children’s benefits alone. We have a moral responsibility to support struggling families, but the Chancellor has ducked this responsibility yet again”.

* Trussell Trust www.trusselltrust.org

* Child Poverty Action Group www.cpag.org.uk

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