Queen’s speech fails to address the cost of living emergency
published on 10 May 2022
Responding to the Queen’s speech, The Salvation Army’s Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant said:
“We are deeply concerned that despite today’s Queen’s Speech stating the Government’s priority is to ‘help ease the cost of living’, what’s been announced will do little to help the poorest households. The rise in the cost of living has hit everyone, but for those with low, fixed incomes and high energy requirements, it’s been devastating.
“Our officers are on the ground in the country’s most deprived communities providing food, shelter, employment and debt advice. They see first-hand how the cost of living crisis is pushing people into a poverty spiral.
“We have helped find a bed for a pregnant woman forced to sleep on the floor and supported a mother who had to give her child water instead of expensive milk. We have even seen a man faint from hunger queuing for a food parcel. These aren’t stories from Dickensian times when The Salvation Army was founded; these are recent examples of how we have stepped in to help people who can no longer afford the essentials of life.”
The Salvation Army is calling for immediate help for those worst affected by the cost of living crisis but also for regional investment that will help lift communities out of poverty and meet the Government’s commitment to ‘level up’ the country.
Immediate short-term emergency support should include the following:
- Temporarily replace Universal Credit loans with grants until the cost of living crisis has been resolved.
- The waiting time for a Universal Credit first payment to be reduced from six 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.
Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant continued: “The people queuing at our foodbanks need immediate help but it is essential that we combine emergency support with long term sustainable investment that gives communities the opportunity to raise their standard of living. This is the only long-term solution to poverty.”
Long term support to enable people to join the workforce should include:
- Setting up a new cross-Government task force to tackle, with empathy and compassion, the reasons people are not earning and are trapped in poverty, by improving education and employment locally so they can achieve a decent standard of living.
- Expanding free childcare provision so parents can afford to work or train - this must include ensuring children from less-well off households are not receiving fewer Early Years hours than their more well-off peers.
In response to the announcement about the 'Modern Slavery Bill' in the Queen’s speech, Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant, said: “We welcome the strengthening of large businesses' obligations to identify and tackle modern slavery within their supply chains. However, we fear the recent changes in the Nationality and Borders Act will result in further barriers to victims of modern slavery being able to access the support they need and are entitled to.
“It’s now more important than ever to identify and support victims of modern slavery as quickly as possible. Also, that the statutory systems around modern slavery focus on the needs of survivors and take into account the trauma they have been through and provide the support they need to rebuild their lives.”