COMMENTING ON THE UK Government’s Spring Statement, anti-poverty campaigners and the trade union movement said that rather than providing economic security, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has abandoned many people to the threat of destitution, and failed the adults and children in most need of help.
Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “In the midst of the biggest wages and bills crisis in living memory, Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement has failed families who need help now.
“We did not get the urgent help with soaring bills that families need. And the rise in the national insurance threshold will mostly benefit better-off households.
“The Spring Statement small print shows that pay packets are now expected to fall in value by £11 a week this year. After 12 years of Tory government, Britain needs a pay rise. But this Chancellor has no plan to get wages rising and give working people long-term financial security.”
Dave Innes, Head of Economics at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “Security is only real if it’s for everyone – the choices the Chancellor has made today won’t deliver any security for those at the sharpest end of this crisis, instead he has abandoned many to the threat of destitution.
“The Chancellor has acted recklessly in pressing ahead with a second real-terms cut to benefits in six months, while prioritising people on middle and higher incomes.
“Changes to National Insurance won’t help those who aren’t working or can’t work due to disability, illness or caring responsibilities, and exposes them to an increased risk of becoming destitute. This means they will face regularly going without absolute essentials such as food, energy and basic hygiene products.
“We can’t build a strong or secure economy by weakening the incomes of the poorest. With benefits reaching their lowest level in real terms since 1985, the Chancellor had ample opportunity with his increased headroom to uprate them in line with inflation to protect those most at risk.
“The Household Support Fund is a drop in the ocean when we consider the number of people who will reach crisis point in the coming months, from the pressure of energy bills alone.
“The Chancellor has asked us to judge him on his actions over the past two years, and while some of his previous choices have helped the worst off, he now risks plunging many into destitution.Make no mistake – this dire situation will leave millions in despair as a direct consequence of the Chancellor’s irresponsible choices today”.
Also commenting on the Spring Statement, John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: “Today the Chancellor could have helped millions of families in Scotland and across the UK cope with spiralling costs – but instead he failed the children who needed him the most. The measures he announced don’t come close to bridging the gap between what the lowest income families have and what they need. It will leave tens of thousands of children stranded in the face of the highest prices in a generation.
“The Chancellor should have increased benefits to match inflation – the most efficient way to help hard-pressed households. But on current plans he will impose a real terms cut of £663 a year on families on universal credit at the worst possible time. That will leave millions without enough to live on. Today, the UK government looks increasingly remote from real life families.”