In-work poverty affects roughly 18% of the UK working population, and before the pandemic roughly 3.6 million people, one worker in nine, was in insecure work, leaving them exposed to massive drops in income or unsafe working conditions. This issue tends to be concentrated in low-income jobs such as caring and leisure.
The rise in relative in-work poverty has been driven by a range of factors. The factor that has increased in-work poverty the most has been increased housing costs and the ratio of housing costs to income for lower income households compared to higher income households. Changes to the tax and benefit system have also contributed to the rise in in-work poverty. Covid-19 further exacerbated this trend and has shed a light on the widespread levels of work insecurity in the UK.
Addressing this pressing issue is a priority for the SVP as this issue affects largely low-income households, which our members have traditionally supported, visited, and helped in several ways.
Our Social Justice work is underpinned by Catholic Social Teaching principles and takes inspiration from encyclicals such as Rerum Novarum which highlighted the concern for fair wages and secure work.
Our work in this area includes campaigning alongside other national and regional organisations to raise awareness about this issue and campaign for change.
We are a signatory to the Keep the Lifeline campaign by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, calling on the government to make the £20 increase to Universal Credit permanent and to extend the increase to legacy benefits. You can read more about the Keep the Lifeline campaign and our response to the Chancellor's Budget in March 2021.
At the start of this crisis the Government uplifted the standard allowance of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £20 a week. This increase is due to end in April this year unless the Government decides to keep it. Failure to make this uplift permanent will affect millions of families who will see their income reduced by £1,040 a year. We are also concerned that this increase has not been extended to people and families on legacy benefits, the majority of whom are disabled, sick or carers.
This is why we are urging the Government to Keep the Lifeline for millions of struggling families by making this uplift permanent and making sure families on legacy benefits can also access this increase.
Government Ministers are currently considering whether to keep the uplift or cut it. MPs need to understand the urgency of this issue and how it will affect their local area - they need to hear from their constituents across the country. We are encouraging people who are supported by Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit, and also those who are not on benefits but who care about this issue, to write urgently to their MP about how a £20 cut would impact them and their community. We have put together a simple guide on how to write to your MP you can follow and use your voice to help those most in need to receive support and protection.
How to write to your MP
1. Either write your own personal email to your MP or use the template below. If you do use our template, please try and add a few comments to make it personal and say why this issue matters to you, this will increase the chances of the MP taking the time to respond to your message. You do not have to be claiming benefits to write to your MP, you can simply be a person who cares about the issue and is concerned about your community and those most vulnerable.
Dear XXXXXXX MP,
I am writing as someone who is on Universal Credit/Working Tax Credit OR ESA/JSA/Income Support to urge you to ask Rishi Sunak & Thérèse Coffey, to do the right thing by making the recent £20 uplift to Universal Credit & Working Tax Credit permanent and extend it to families on legacy benefits too.
[If you’re Universal Credit allowance has increased because of the uplift, write a few words about the kind of impact the additional £20 has had on you]
[If you haven’t had the uplift, or if you are not currently on benefits, write a few words about why this issue is very important to you]
Please urgently write or speak to Ministers and ask them to keep the lifeline and ensure those on legacy benefits are not left behind. I would appreciate a response and thank you for your time.
2. Go to www.writetothem.com and enter your postcode. Scroll down to find ‘Your MP’, click on their name.
3. Copy and paste the letter you’ve drafted.
4. Follow the instructions on the website to send your letter.
Please let us know if you have written to your MP and if you get a response from them. You can share any responses with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It may take a few weeks for them to get back to you, but you should hear back from them.