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Cost of living support not enough, Government told

Faith groups, charities and politicians have called on the government to take urgent action to bridge the cost of living gap faced by the lowest income families

The call responds to a report, launched by the Joint Public Issues Team on Sunday (7 August), and endorsed by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. 

Written by poverty expert and Loughborough University Professor Donald Hirsch, the report reveals the gap between the support the government is currently offering to households and the anticipated rise in living costs. 
It assesses the extent to which cost of living measures announced in May will compensate for three blows experienced by millions of low income families: cuts in Universal Credit, inadequate uprating of benefits with accelerating inflation in April and the further rise in the energy cap anticipated in October. 
It shows that the package of support measures falls £1600 short of making up for these losses, even with the October increase in the cap.
The report is endorsed by 56 charities, faith groups and politicians, many of whom are providing front-line support for families hit by rising costs, including the Trussell Trust, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Child Poverty Action Group. General Secretary Lynn Green is among the report’s signatories. 
The groups, supported by Mr Brown, are urging the Government to consider appropriate measures to bridge the shortfall in family finances, which is only anticipated to rise into the winter months.

Some charities are calling for benefits to be uprated in line with inflation, and for debt deductions from Universal Credit to be paused.
Mr Brown said, ‘This is a crisis that Britain hasn’t seen in decades. The most urgent and immediate challenge for the incoming Prime Minister is to ensure that families with children and disabled people aren’t neglected to struggle through the challenges ahead.

'We need targeted support for families on the lowest-incomes, not just cuts in taxes or flat rate payments which don’t account for the specific needs of people on the brink of poverty. There should be no argument that a permanent increase in Universal Credit is the only way to take a sure step towards a solution.
‘This crisis goes far beyond politics; this is a moral issue - our responsibilities to our neighbours and in particular to those who have the least and whose needs are the greatest. The incoming Prime Minister has a moral responsibility to ensure that everyone has enough to live on, through this crisis and beyond. We cannot be at ease when millions are ill at ease and cannot rest content as long as there is so much discontent. 
‘Our society will be stronger when we help the weak and will be richer when we help the poor.’

JPIT Case Study Post 03

The report contains stories of first-hand experience of the impact of the rise in cost of living. Lowri receives Universal Credit and cares for her father and daughter. Her food and fuel bills have doubled, and she’s had to sell her daughter’s bike to make ends meet.

She said, 'I have spent the last five years living in survival mode, just about surviving each day, worrying about money constantly. I am emotionally and mentally exhausted living like this. It is not living, merely existing.

'There is just no way people can manage to pay all their bills, and all we are doing is existing to pay bills. Terrified is an understatement.'

The Revd Graham Thompson, President of the Methodist Church in Britain, which has endorsed the report, said, 'Churches and other faith groups are on the front line of offering support to families who are already being swept under by rising costs. We know that millions of families aren’t simply making hard choices between heating and eating, but are having to go without both completely.

'If people aren’t give enough support to live, we don’t dare to imagine what will happen this winter. The government now have a duty to step up and take firm and long-lasting action to ensure not only that this crisis doesn’t deepen, but that it doesn’t happen again.'

Access the report here: jpit.uk/enoughtolive 

An online event is took place on Wednesday, 10 August to hear the story behind the report. It was hosted by the Joint Public Issues Team and Christians Against Poverty. Access it on YouTube here 




Baptist Times, 08/08/2022
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