A cut to benefits would batter millions of households

Liz Truss’s threats of a real-terms cut would ramp up inequality and hamper growth


The chancellor’s mini-budget has spooked the markets, stoked a rise in interest rates, and now caused a full-blown and very public cabinet row over whether to cut benefits for millions of working-age families. Some ministers are urging the prime minister to press ahead with the cut and end Britain’s “Benefit Street culture”, while others have spoken out … Continued

Boris Johnson is wrong to downplay the impact on families from the Universal Credit cut

Rising inflation and surging energy bills come as the government takes £20 a week off families in the Universal Credit cut


Today was a big deal for Boris Johnson who delivered his speech to the Conservative Party Conference. But it’s an even bigger day for low-and-middle income households across Britain, for all the wrong reasons. As the PM stepped up onto stage, their income took a step down with Universal Credit cut by £20 a week. … Continued

The UK should not weaken safety nets mid-storm

As more workers are laid-off this autumn, the grim reality of meagre support will become clear


Resisting pressure to spend more on disadvantaged groups is seen as part of the job by battle-hardened officials in the UK Treasury. But stripping away benefit increases that have only just been introduced is rather different and doing so in the midst of an economic collapse would, to put it mildly, be something extraordinary. Yet … Continued

Any further questions?

From The safety net in action? Universal Credit’s role in the crisis and the recovery


We often have more questions submitted for our event Q&A sessions than we’re able to answer. Where this is the case, we’ll endeavour to respond to a selection of the most interesting or most representative questions that went unanswered. The questions below were submitted to our panel for the event The safety net in action? … Continued

The child poverty crisis needs pushing up the agenda in Britain’s ‘Brexit’ election

None of the main party manifestos will end child poverty


Both the main parties have learnt lessons from the 2017 election. The Conservatives have learnt not to scare the horses with big new policies. Their 2019 manifesto is very much a ‘safety-first’ document. Labour learnt that they have a problem with pensioners – 70-year olds are twice as likely to vote Tory as Labour – … Continued

A welcome boost for ‘just about managing’ families in Scotland


Yesterday started with a bleak assessment by the Child Poverty Action Group of the impact of ongoing welfare cuts – specifically how the two-child limit on support, which began to be implemented in 2017, is set to push 300,000 children into poverty. But there was better news for Scottish parents later in the day, as … Continued

Boosting benefit take-up is critical to the success of Universal Credit, but we might not be able to measure whether it’s working


Benefit take-up rates matter. A lot. If households aren’t actually receiving the benefits that government policy entitles them to, their incomes will be lower and the social safety net will not work as intended. The government’s own estimates of benefits take-up suggest that billions of pounds worth of benefits probably go unclaimed each year. Take-up … Continued

Delaying rollout of Universal Credit is a sensible step – but fundamental reforms are still needed


Today we learnt that the government is preparing a package of measures for Universal Credit (UC) ahead of the upcoming Budget – but what are they changing and what difference might it make? The first thing to understand is that these changes aren’t about the fundamentals of either the generosity or operation of Universal Credit … Continued

Universal Credit: the honesty we owe and the changes we need


All is not well in the land of Universal Credit (UC). Cabinet ministers are angsting in private about the challenges of rolling out this government’s single biggest domestic policy reform. Two ex-Prime Ministers are worrying in public that the benefit risks becoming a new poll tax. And Labour has (rhetorically at least) promised to scrap … Continued

The roll out of Universal Credit will lead to a postcode lottery of winners and losers


On welfare reform, something is moving in the undergrowth. It’s called Universal Credit. The new benefit will amount to £53 billion by 2020-21, with almost half of families with children entitled to it.  Only the State Pension will be bigger. Implementing this mammoth policy is the key task facing the new Secretary of State for … Continued

Matthew Whittaker

The new financial year: No fireworks yet but is pain brewing for low-to-middle income households?


Prior to the government’s tax credit U-turn in last year’s Autumn Statement, 6 April 2016 was set to be a red letter day – representing the point at which more than 3 million tax credit recipient families would face the reality of reductions in their annual awards of £1,300 on average. Having shelved the cuts … Continued

Universal Credit’s future depends on whether it’s the economics or the politics that comes first for the Treasury


Incentives matter. That was one of the central assumptions behind the creation of Universal Credit. As well as creating a simpler benefits system (a good thing in and of itself), the purpose of the new benefit is to drive up employment by providing a clearer financial incentive to enter and progress in work. But incentives … Continued

Could Universal Credit hold the key to reducing child poverty?


We discovered this morning that the proportion of children living in relative poverty is at its lowest level since the 1980s. Great news of course, but this headline masks a much more complicated – and worrying – picture. Falls in this headline poverty measure – which captures those children living in households with incomes less … Continued

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