Work has been the biggest anti-poverty policy of recent decades, with support delivered under banners of ‘making work pay’, and calls for people to ‘work their way out of poverty’. However, people living in poverty are increasingly likely to be working. The UK’s wage fall since the 2008 financial crisis has been unmatched by any other large economy. This will be exacerbated by the Universal Credit roll out. Families are being pushed into financial hardship and work incentives damaged, particularly for second earners, single parents and those moving into self-employment.
As the elected Mayor of Bedford Borough, in 2013 I faced 40 per cent cuts in local government financing, a new localism agenda and welfare reform. As part of welfare reform, local councils had to devise their own Council Tax Reduction Scheme to replace the Council Tax Benefit System, taking on this responsibility from central government.