AN “unjustifiable” freeze in benefits for yet another year will tighten poverty’s grip on low income families already struggling with hardship, says the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
What’s more, even more households will be pulled into poverty, the organisation warns, as the fourth year of the freeze comes into effect today. Furthermore, it says the Government’s decision to continue the freeze flies in the face of its declaration that austerity is over.
The freeze was introduced in April 2016. Between then and November 2018, the cost of living for people on low incomes rose by £900.
But by continuing the freeze for a fourth year, families living in poverty will be left a total of £560 worse off on average, the JRFV claims – equivalent to three months of food shopping for an average low-income family.
The decision is likely to result in 10.7 million people in poverty missing out on £220 per year to help cover the increased cost of living, and 200,000 more people being locked in poverty, it adds.
“In the midst of huge political and economic uncertainty, families who have already seen their support eroded know that the coming year will be hard to get through,” said Campbell Robb, the JRF’s chief executive (main picture). “It’s not right that more parents will face impossible situations – trying to decide which essential bills to pay and what they can cut back on to make it through each week.
“Keeping benefits and tax credits frozen is unjustifiable. 4.1 million children are now locked in poverty – nearly three quarters of whom are in a working household.
“The risks of economic uncertainty should not be allowed to disproportionally affect those with no leeway in their finances. Ending the freeze is the right thing to do and would have helped working families stay afloat.
“As the Government approaches its spending review, it needs to look at how best to protect people from harm who are otherwise left without an anchor in uncertain times.”