Our social security system remains key to lifting people out of poverty. The £20 cut to Universal Credit has been a major blow to the millions of people across the country who are facing rising prices and significant food and fuel inflation.
While the reduction in the taper rate for Universal Credit from 63 pence to 55 pence and the increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50, will benefit those in work and particularly those who can take on more hours, they will do nothing for people claiming Universal Credit who are not in work. Any suggestion that this increase will compensate for the cut to Universal Credit are flawed. Universal Credit is vital to helping people who are not in employment stay afloat.
On measures aimed at revitalising town centres across England, such as the £42 million expected for this purpose, we welcome the commitment to revitalising areas which have been “left behind” for many years. However, we are still awaiting further details on this spending, and remain concerned that funds for “levelling up” areas will be spent primarily on infrastructure, and not on much needed services providing mental health support.
Our experience of working in communities in need across the country has shown us there is a real need for more specific funding ringfenced to help people back into work through tailored support, as well as support and advice on essential employment soft-skills.
The Treasury indicated that skills will also be at the heart of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which the Chancellor will increase to £1.5bn a year. While this move is welcomed, we reinforce our response to the Spring Budget and urge Government to ensure:
Summary of our response:
- There is an end to austerity measures for local government, and instead increased spending is implemented to improve the quality of public service provision and standards of living.
- The new UK Shared Prosperity Fund is ring-fenced and not used to plug funding gaps in local government budgets which have been decimated over the last decade.