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JRF - Some relief for families but “obstacle course just to afford the essentials” remains

Rebecca McDonald, Chief Economist for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation responded to the Chancellor’s fiscal statement, which included confirmation that benefits would be uprated in line with inflation 

“It will be a huge relief to families on benefits that they are not facing what would have amounted to a historic cut. In taking this stand, the government has acknowledged that people cannot withstand benefits being eroded any further. However families are facing the worst winter many will remember and can’t wait for April – they need the help now to get through a winter of soaring costs. Even with uprating, rates are at historic lows and households facing difficult times are increasingly not able to cover the essentials.

“Through the course of this year we have seen an increase in the number of families who are falling behind with their bills, unable to afford hot meals and going without the essentials they need. The use of one-off payments to help with the cost of living may mitigate some of the looming disaster, but those who narrowly don’t qualify will be hit hard.

“This winter and beyond is still going to be a frightening obstacle course just to afford the essentials. Rises in council tax, food and rents are all looking insurmountable for large swathes of the population. The welcome increase to the benefit cap from April has recognised the pressures facing people on low incomes but the continuing freeze on LHA will hit private renters very hard.

“The Government must ensure that they help everyone who needs it this winter and plug urgent shortfalls during such historically difficult times.”

Chancellor delivers plan for stability, growth and public services

The Autumn Statement 2022 speech

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