This autumn the benefit cap will be cut, squeezing low-income families even further and pushing more people into poverty. The Welfare Reform & Work Act 2016 lowers the cap to £23,000 per annum for families (or £15,410 for single claimants) in London and £20,000 for families (or £13,400 for single claimants) outside of London. There are currently 3.9 million children living in poverty. Projections from the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that child poverty could rise by 50 per cent by 2020. Tightening the cap and taking away more support from low-income households will have a devastating effect on families and children.
David Cameron’s final words at PMQs today – “Nothing is really impossible if you put your mind to it” – bring to my mind one of his early speeches on poverty.
We need your help. In two weeks’ time, the government will publish statistics for 2014/15 (the most up to date available) on how many children are growing up in poverty. We need to make sure as many people hear about this as possible.
While experts project that by 2020, as many as 50% more children could be in poverty, this new batch of statistics may or may not show much change from the last round, which found 3.7 million children are in poverty in the UK.
We started providing welfare rights advice to clients of the Tower Hamlets Foodbank as part of First Love Foundation’s Advice & Support project almost three years ago, thanks to help from the Pears Foundation. It’s now been a year since the project was scaled up with support from the Big Lottery Fund and I joined the team.
It’s undoubtedly good news that Stephen Crabb, the new Work & Pensions Secretary, insists that Universal Credit will be one of his main priorities. The key question, however, is will it be one of the Chancellor’s priorities?
At a recent event, I listened to a US campaigner describe how they fought and won the long battle for equal marriage.
At first, she said, they talked about rights for LGBTQ people – the right to participate in society in the same measure as their straight contemporaries – to marry, to be recognised as their loved one’s legal partner. These rights mattered to the community. But it turned out that talking about legal rights didn’t tug the public’s heart strings in the right direction.
Anyone following the story of Universal Credit’s painfully delayed roll-out will already be familiar with its time-bending qualities, but this month’s cuts to its work allowances mean that many hard-pressed parents now need to work a thirteen- or fourteen-month year just to protect current income levels.