Millions of people will see their benefits rise by just 37p a week next year, the government has said.
‘Legacy’ benefits – as well a those covering carers – will rise by just 0.5 per cent – the equivalent of an additional 37p weekly on top of the £74.35 standard rate of Jobseekers’ Allowance or sickness and disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance.
Two million people – many among Britain’s most vulnerable – claim those benefits. The separate Carer’s Alliance will rise by just 34p, with the rise for children and under-25s even smaller.
The lack of growth comes despite Universal Credit being raised by £20 this year – and the state pension increasing by 2.5 per cent.
Therese Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, told MPs on Wednesday that – outside the state pension – benefits will be increased in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
She said: “All other benefits will be increased in line with CPI – which was 0.5% in the relevant reference period.
“This includes working-age benefits, benefits to help with additional needs arising from disability, carers’ benefits, pensioner premiums in income-related benefits, Statutory Payments, and Additional State Pension.”
Stephen Timms, Chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, said: “Away from the headlines, the Government has slipped out an announcement on benefit rates that will come as a major blow.
“Millions of people on Universal Credit are now facing the Christmas period in agonising uncertainty, not knowing whether the Government will cut their income by £20 a week next April.
“Meanwhile, those on older benefits, who have already missed out on the rise because the DWP’s systems are too old fashioned, will receive an increase of just 0.5% next year.
“The Government must think again – if it doesn’t, some of the most vulnerable people in society will be faced with a tough winter with no additional support.”