MORE PEOPLE WILL be swept into poverty as a result of decisions made in the Chancellor’s budget yesterday (3 March 2021), says the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) in an incisive response to the UK Government’s plans.

Helen Barnard of JRF said: “It is unacceptable that the Chancellor has decided to cut the incomes of millions of families by £1040-a-year in six months’ time. He said this Budget would ‘meet the moment’, but this decision creates a perfect storm for the end of this year, with the main rate of unemployment support cut to its lowest level in real terms since 1990 just as furlough ends and job losses are expected to peak. This makes no sense and will pull hundreds of thousands more people into poverty as we head into winter.

“Even before Coronavirus, incomes were falling fastest for people with the lowest incomes due in large part to benefit cuts. Ministers know this short extension offers little relief or reassurance to the millions of families, both in and out-of-work, for whom this £20-a-week is helping to stay afloat. This cut to Universal Credit will increase hardship when the economic crisis is far from over and undermine our national road to recovery.

“It is not too late for the Chancellor to do the right thing: announce an extension of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit for at least the next year. It is also totally indefensible that people who are sick, disabled or carers claiming legacy benefits continue to be excluded from this vital support. The Government must urgently right this injustice.”

On housing, Ms Barnard added: “With billions going into propping up already high house prices through the Stamp Duty Holiday and the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme, it’s galling to see the government choose to ignore millions of renters who are already worried about mounting arrears. Many will be left struggling to keep a roof over their heads at the same time as financial support is pulled away.”

* Source: JRF