Citizens Advice has released worrying evidence* that across England and Wales the benefits system is creating, not reducing, poverty and insecurity.
The freeze on income-related benefits since 2016 together with rising prices has reduced real-terms support by 6.5%. This means an average annual reduction of £420 for families claiming benefits.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) has also been frozen in most areas and fallen behind local rents.
Citizens Advice welcomes the announcement that from April benefits will increase in line with inflation. But the new research shows that even if these rises continue every year, 38% of the families affected will still not have enough money to cover their costs by 2024.
Citizens Advice is calling on government i) to raise income-related benefits by inflation plus 2% for four years; and ii) to recalculate LHA, which determines housing benefit for private tenants.
This is necessary to help provide financial security and protect people from further hardship.
** Making End Meet: The impact of the benefits freeze on people in debt, Citizens Advice, February 2020.