Rishi Sunak has been warned that foodbanks will have to “pick up the pieces” this winter, after the chancellor refused calls to reverse a cut to universal credit at the Budget.
While Sunak did decrease the “taper rate”, providing some relief to around two million claimants, campaigners say many will still struggle to make ends meet this winter.
Post-Budget analysis from the Resolution Foundation found that, despite changes to universal credit, roughly 75 per cent of the 4.4 million households relying on the benefit will be left worse off.
‘It’s a huge cut’
Garry Lemon, the director of policy and research at the Trussell Trust foodbank network, told The Independent “there just wasn’t enough for some of those in our society who need it most”.
He said: “I’m talking about people who cannot work. That might be due to disability, illness or caring responsibilities for example.
“That headline universal credit pick up doesn’t help them, but these are the people we see disproportionately at foodbanks and I would say they deserve support too.”
“The chancellor himself recently said that everybody should be able to afford the essentials – we as a society can all agree on that – but these people were frankly ignored in the rhetoric of making working pay and in the big spending decisions.”
He told the publication: “From the point of view of someone who represents food banks, I’m deeply disappointed by the Budget. Obviously it’s a welcome thing to see low-earning people being able to keep more of what they earn, don’t get me wrong, absolutely welcome that, but foodbanks are once again going to be left to pick up the pieces for people can’t work.
“I really wish we as a nation could begin to have a more grown-up conversation about work, about who can and who can’t. This is all taking place in the shadow of £6 billion being taken back out of universal credit – it’s a huge, huge cut”.
After Wednesday’s Budget, a leading economic think-tank warned that millions will be left worse off – and low-income households face “real pain” due to Sunak hiking taxes while costs rise.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said in its comprehensive Budget analysis that the outlook for living standards does not match the Chancellor’s upbeat tone.
After Sunak claimed it was a Budget to “usher in a new age of optimism”, IFS director Paul Johnson said voters “may not get much feelgood factor” with high inflation, rising taxes and poor growth “undermined more by Brexit than by the pandemic”.
He said these factors will see living standards “barely rising and, for many, falling over the next year” as he described the almost two decades of minimal growth in wages as “unprecedented”.