The Chancellor announced a number of changes to our benefits system in today’s Budget. The full details of these are available here.
The Trussell Trust was encouraged to see the changes focused on protecting people’s incomes – such as the £500m hardship fund for local authorities.
It is also encouraging to see the changes in deductions to Universal Credit, which mean the amounts needing to be paid back will be reduced to 25% of a claimant’s standard allowance, and repayment of advances will take place over 24 months instead of just 12. We would like to see these measures brought forward from their planned start date, October 2021.
This is a step in the right direction, but there is more to be done to ensure that Universal Credit payments are enough for everyone to afford the absolute essentials.
Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, Emma Revie, explains:
“The Chancellor is right when he says that coronavirus represents an unprecedented challenge for the UK, and to introduce measures to strengthen the safety net for the most vulnerable people. We welcome the extra financial support announced, particularly the £500m hardship fund for local councils, which can play a key role in anchoring us all from poverty.
“But as coronavirus unfolds, more people could need this safety net than ever before – especially those who aren’t eligible for sick pay or have unstable jobs. For many of these people the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment could cause real hardship, despite measures announced in today’s Budget. We know the five-week wait is already pushing people to food banks, trapping many in debt and making issues with housing, ill health, disability and domestic abuse worse.
“In his statement, the Chancellor said that he will continue to review the situation. As more people look likely to move onto Universal Credit as a result of the outbreak, the most effective way to help would be to end the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment by giving people grants, rather than loans that have to be paid back further down the line. We can prevent more people being locked into poverty as the outbreak develops by ending the wait now.”
Contact the Trussell Trust Press Office at 020 3137 3699 or [email protected]
Notes to Editor
The Trussell Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign is calling for an end to the 5+ week wait for Universal Credit.
About the Trussell Trust:
- We’re here to end the need for food banks in UK.
- We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
- Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
- You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org