A report* published this week claims there is “a security deficit at the heart of our society”.
It shows how falling income over many years has affected the lives of some of the country’s poorest citizens. Whether employed or dependent on benefits, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) points to:
“The prevalence of low incomes, precarity, debt and destitution”.
The institute says the causes are years of benefits growing more slowly than wages and the recent benefits freeze. For example, the value of universal credit standard allowance is now 12.5 per cent of average earnings; its equivalent, unemployment benefit, when it began in 1948, was 20 per cent.
The impact on families is more and more visible.
It includes increased homelessness, use of food banks and job insecurity. It shows in the lives of growing numbers of Citizens Advice clients. It features in the media and arts; recent examples are the feature films Sorry We Missed You and I,Daniel Blake.
In its manifesto for the December election, Citizens Advice** is asking the new government to
In our experience, the IPPR is right to say:
“People need a degree of financial security in order to be able to make choices and stabilise themselves and their families in order to secure and maintain work.”
They go on to argue for “a more progressive vision of social security” recognising that “a basic minimum standard of living should be a foundation for citizenship”.
* Social (in)security: Reforming the UK’s social safety net, Institute for Public Policy Research, November 2019 ** Helping people find their way forward, Citizens Advice, November 2019