- 6 MILLION FAMILIES FACING CUT OF £20 A WEEK MUST NOT BE ABANDONED SAYS FORMER PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN
- MILLIONS MORE NOW HAVE LITTLE OR NO SAVINGS AND WILL GO INTO DEBT TO BUY EVEN THE MOST BASIC OF CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PRESENTS
- NEW ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAMME NEEDED AS CHILD POVERTY – ALREADY 4.2MILLION – DEEPENS
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is calling on the Chancellor to scrap plans to abolish the £20 a week universal credit addition currently paid to 6m families in his mini-budget next week.
And to prevent child poverty – now 4.2m – deepening to levels not seen since official records began, he must immediately raise the real value of child benefits.
In a speech to the Resolution Foundation this morning (Monday), Mr Brown warns that failure to act urgently will lead to community revolt. Mr Brown is making his intervention as the Resolution Foundation publishes a study showing unemployment and reduced wages have already cut into the family incomes of the poorest 20 per cent and millions of families are now facing the pressures of Christmas with falling savings or no savings at all. He will tell the virtual meeting that The Resolution Foundation’s stark findings make their report is a “must-read” for Prime Minister Johnson and Chancellor Sunak.
Mr Brown will say:
“Action is now urgent because March’s planned withdrawal of £20 from weekly Universal Credit payments will automatically bring 700,000 more into poverty, 300,000 of them children as £6billion of spending power is removed from an already fragile economy.”
“500,000 of the already poor will be plunged into even deeper poverty as they lose out £1000 a year. And to this, the impact rising unemployment, rising food prices and the continuing impact of the two-child limit and the cap on benefits and other social security cuts now in train and we face a worsening social crisis in the new year.
“I am making this call for urgent action after studying today’s important Resolution Foundation study showing that unemployment and reduced wages have already cut into the family incomes of the poorest 20 per cent and that millions of families face the pressures of Christmas with falling savings or savings reduced to zero and thus little cash to buy even the most basic of Christmas presents for their children without going into debt.
“The Resolution Foundations report must be read by the Prime Minister and Chancellor. I congratulate Torsten Bell for the Foundations’ continuously high standard of research and, in particular, I congratulate the report’s authors for what is the first up to the minute study of what is happening to family budgets now.”
“Their findings show that the crisis is deepening the divide between rich and poor. The poorest 40 per cent – more than 10 m families – have experienced the hardest hit on their family budgets and are 50 per cent more likely to have seen family budgets squeezed as income falls relative to spending.
“30 per cent of adults who have seen their income fall throughout the crisis are now are unable to afford basic household costs such as heating, fresh fruit and vegetables, or being able to replace a fridge or washing machine and cannot save.
“Worse still nearly 60 per cent whose incomes have fallen are getting into debt and are borrowing or getting help from family or friends to pay for everyday living.
“One-third of the poorest 20 per cent had no savings before this crisis and those with little savings are the most likely to be using them, making it difficult for millions to afford the eventual socially distance Christmas we might face.
“Unemployment is now the most important cause of rising poverty and such poverty is exacerbated as people who become unemployed move on to benefits on the new less generous terms on which Universal Credit is paid.
“But wage cuts are starting to play a big role in this downward slide, pushing people into poverty and widening inequalities. Even if as we hope medical conditions improve from now on and a vaccine becomes available, socially, conditions, especially for those already under pressure, face a further downward slide.
“I want to be clear with the Government: if they do not announce there will be a new anti-poverty programme, they face a rebellion: Britain will become a Two Nation Britain, more divided between rich and poor than at any time in this generation with anger rising.
“Black Lives Matter will point to unemployment and poverty rates that are twice the national average among black and ethnic communities and four times that figure among black youth.
“Supporters of Marcus Rashford and supporters of Food Banks who see that despite the recent welcome package for local authorities, child hunger continues to rise.
“And concerned citizens who came together every Thursday to clap for the NHS, the churches and faith groups who are campaigning about child benefit universal credit and debt and all those concerned citizens who demand ‘something be done’ for the lowest-paid workers – including those in the NHS and in social care who have been risking their lives.
“And a Northern revolt from the poorest communities of the UK who do not see any levelling up but only levelling down.
“I say to the chancellor – we supported you when you did the right things when the crisis began but clearly the damaging impact on poverty is clearly here to stay, so you, at a minimum, should continue to give them the £20 weekly support they need.”
NOTE to desks
Mr Brown makes his speech at 11am today.