Spring Budget leaves millions locked in poverty
published on 15 Mar 2023
While The Salvation Army is pleased the Spring Budget includes measures to help some people into work so they can raise their standard of living, it leaves millions more still locked in poverty.
The Salvation Army is disappointed that the Spring Budget did not:
- Support people who are furthest from the job market through increased investment in specialist employment services like Employment Plus.
- Scrap the bridging loan that some Universal Credit claimants are forced to take out while they wait for their first payment, which is pushing people into debt.
- Remove the freeze on the Local Housing Allowance so people on low incomes can at least afford the lowest 30% of private rents in their area.
Major Nick Coke, Territorial Co-ordinator for Justice and Reconciliation at The Salvation Army, said: “Measures to expand access to free childcare and the extension of the energy price cap are welcome help for people on low incomes but the Spring Budget also contains dangerous contradictions and worrying omissions that will keep many in poverty.
“We are very concerned about plans to sanction the benefits of vulnerable people instead of addressing the reasons they are unable to work. Our food banks, shelters, debt and employment services are full of people who are desperate to work but are locked out of employment for reasons they can’t control.
“People in this position often lack education or skills, have mental or physical health problems, are homeless, are unpaid carers or live in areas where old industries have shut down. If the Government is to successfully grow the economy, people struggling to earn must be supported into the workforce. The focus should be on providing specialist support to help these people back into employment rather than sanctioning them and potentially pushing them further into poverty.
“We are also disappointed that the Chancellor has done nothing to prevent people in poverty being pushed into debt while they wait weeks for their first Universal Credit payment despite the benefits system being meant as a safety net.
“Finally the Spring Budget also offers nothing to those who can’t afford a roof over the heads due to the cost of living. If this Government is to keep its promise to stem the rising tide of homelessness, it’s vital that it lifts the freeze on the Local Housing Allowance so people can afford their rent amid soaring prices.”