UK GOV HAS MADE INROADS TO EASE FAMILIES’ PAIN BUT THEY STILL FACE TOUGH TIMES AHEAD
Melanie Simmonds, Head of Save the Children Cymru said: “We are reassured by the Chancellor’s support for children and families today as parents face one of the toughest economic climates in their lifetimes. Everyone is suffering right now, but to see social security budgets are going up by over 10% and the minimum wage by over 9% should give hope for the future.
“We are pleased to see both benefits and the benefit cap rise in line with inflation. Increased Universal Credit will be a key lifeline for those struggling with a punishing cost of living crisis though it would have been better to introduce it early, rather than making people wait until April 2023.
“Increasing the benefit cap in line with inflation is significant. This arbitrary and unfair cap prevents over 100,000 households with children from accessing their full entitlement. We hope this is a first step to scrapping this cap entirely.
“The Chancellor’s introduction of an Energy Price Guarantee of £3000, plus the targeted support of £900 extra as a cost of living payment for those on benefits is going to help people. Yet we are concerned that once again the one-off payments do not take family size into account, which means some children will miss out. We believe an extra £10 per month per child into the child element of Universal Credit is also needed to provide sustainable support for children and families long-term.
“Parents we work with are also concerned about the fresh focus on worklessness, and worry there isn’t the right kind of support to help them get into and progress at work. The extortionate cost of childcare is one of the biggest barriers to employment and it wasn’t even mentioned by the Chancellor. With 41% of people receiving Universal Credit already in work, asking a further 600,000 people to meet with a work coach is not a sensible priority and there are now fears growing about new sanctions.
“We can see the UK government has made some attempts to ease the pain for families who have for too long been living in an inadequate social security system, drowning in debt and going without. But this needs to be the first step with lots more action to come, to turn rhetoric about compassion into action to make sure no child misses out because bills and food hollowed out family incomes.”