Energy price freeze welcome but poorest will still struggle
published on 8 Sep 2022
Energy price freeze welcome but poorest still left out in the cold
The Salvation Army welcomes the Government’s announcement that energy prices will be frozen at £2500 a year for the next two years. However, the Church and Charity warns that the poorest will still struggle and further emergency measures are needed.
Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant said: “We support struggling families across the UK and see first-hand the huge financial pressure people are under. While freezing energy prices is an important measure, it does not help those already struggling with rising food prices and basic essentials.
“Our officers are already seeing parents skipping meals to feed their children and demand at our foodbanks is very high. Those who rely on Universal Credit must be able to afford the basic necessities. We are urging the Government to increase Universal Credit payments in line with inflation.
“Moreover, the bleak economic forecasts mean that we are facing a possible recession which could well push more people onto Universal Credit. The current system means most have to wait around 5 weeks for their first payment with a loan the only option for those who can’t bridge that gap. Loan repayments are then deducted from their UC payments making it almost impossible for payments to cover the very basics."
The Salvation Army is urgently asking Prime Minster Truss to make emergency changes to the UC system to stop those relying on it falling into deprivation and debt. In particular we are calling for:
- Immediately uprating Universal Credit and other benefits for people on low incomes, in line with inflation, and index-linking them to maintain their value.
- Temporary replacement of Universal Credit loans with grants until the cost of living crisis has been resolved.
- Reduction in the waiting time for a Universal Credit first payment from five to two weeks, so people aren't forced into debt.
- Existing Universal Credit debt to be included in the Government's 60 day 'Breathing Space' scheme, giving people more time to make repayments.
- A new cross-Government task force to tackle, with empathy and compassion, the reasons people are not earning and are trapped in poverty.