Chancellor Philip Hammond is being urged to use next week’s Spring Statement to end the freeze on working-age benefits after a new report revealed some 200,000 Brits have been pushed into poverty due to the cutbacks.
The freeze on DWP benefits is due to start its fourth year in a row from April 8 after MPs signed off the cost-cutting sanctions in a vote earlier this week.
But social reform think tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has urged Hammond to reconsider after its new report revealed some striking figures.
The JRF said the freeze on benefits means the support people receive in 2019 will be worth 6.5 per cent less in real terms than if payments had risen in line with inflation.
The group said 200,000 had been pushed into poverty by the first three years of the freeze, including around 100,000 children.
JRF chief executive Campbell Robb said: “As a society, we are failing in our duty to do everything we can to protect each other from poverty.
“Social security is meant to be a public service we can all rely on in hard times, however that support is being eroded.
“There is a growing consensus across the political parties that continuing the benefits freeze would be morally unjustifiable.
“Ministers have indicated that they do not think the freeze should be extended beyond 2020.
“But families are being driven into poverty now and cannot wait another year for action. ”
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd told the Mirror this week that there are “no plans” to extend the freeze beyond 2020.
DWP Minister Justin Tomlinson defended the changes in a debate earlier this week.
He described the debate as “very helpful to focus our minds as we share the proceeds of growth in the coming years to make sure that we’re targeting support for those that most need it.”
Adding: “With this spending we are upholding our commitment to pensioners, maintaining the triple lock, helping the poorest pensioners with pension credit, and ensuring working people can earn more before their Universal Credit payment is reduced and providing essential support to disabled people and carers.”