BENEFIT CUTS “CRUEL AND PUNISHING” WARNS GAVIN


UK minister have been urged not to leave pensioners and working familied behind as inflation rates once again hit record levels.


The latest inflation figures found overall costs are rising for households at 10.1% a year, equalling the highest figure recorded in 40 years.


Energy and household prices were found to be rising at a much faster rate than other goods, with costs increasing by 20.2% over the past year, while food makes up the 2nd highest component, coming in at 14.5%.


The CPI measure of inflation published this week is normally used to determine the rise in social security benefits for millions of people, including Pension Credit, Child Benefit, Universal Credit, and disability related benefits.


But UK Government ministers have repeatedly refused to confirm if this standard practice will be put in place this year, despite calls even from their own backbenchers to give a cost of living increase to social security recipients.


The lack of clarity on the UK Government’s plans has been condemned by anti-poverty campaigners.


Rebecca McDonald from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said, “The cost of living has millions fearing for the future, with the price of food rising faster than at any point since 1980. This Government surely cannot wish to be remembered for withholding either cash or stability from families."


And Jack Leslie, Senior Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said, “It's not a credible approach to raise benefits below inflation. Particularly when inflation is highest for low income families who spend relatively more on food and home energy.”


Those calls were echoed by Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP, Gavin Newlands, who said:


“Over 10,000 households in Renfrewshire get Child Benefit, over 4,000 receive Pension Credit, and 11,000 on Universal Credit. Tory cuts to these benefits and more will be yet another hammer blow for households who are already having to deal with the worst cost of living crisis in recent history.


“We know that inflation impacts the poorest hardest as basics like food and home energy costs are soaring quickest, so a Tory benefits cut will be doubly cruel and punishing on millions of our fellow citizens.


“What is also cruel is the information vacuum that has been allowed to develop by UK ministers. Households are terrified about the financial challenges of now and the future, but with no certainty about what that future holds those fears must grow even bigger.


“We know the Prime Minister and her omnishambles of a government only has a short time left to run, so they should do the decent thing and ensure that at least one positive legacy is that social security recipients receive the support they deserve and need to be able to heat and feed their families.”


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