Chancellor’s announcement of financial support welcome but will be too little and will come too late
Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced a series of financial support measures that the UK Government will be implementing in light of the growing cost of living crisis.
Most notably for Mind the Chancellor announced:
8 million of the lowest income households will be receiving a one-off cost of living payment of £650 from the DWP. The first payment will arrive in July, with the second to follow in the autumn.
6 million people receiving disability benefits will receive an extra one-off £150 payment in September.
Next April benefits will be uprated by this September’s Consumer Price Index rate of inflation, likely to amount to a 10% rise in benefits.
The Household Support Fund will be extended by £500 million from October.
The original plans for a £200 loan to support people with their energy bills have been changed, with the payment now being a £400 grant.
From autumn, over 8 million pensioners receiving winter Fuel Payment will receive an extra one-off £300 payment.
Responding to the announcement, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs at Mind, said:
“Today’s announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of financial assistance for households across the country is welcome, though we remain concerned that people on the lowest incomes will continue to struggle.
“We are pleased to see the UK Government recognising the extra costs faced every day by disabled people through a £150 grant to those claiming disability benefits, as well as the decision to give a grant of £650 to 8 million households on the lowest incomes to support with rising living costs. It is also reassuring to hear the Government committing themselves to raising all benefits in line with inflation next year.
“Unfortunately, much of this support will be too little and will come too late to stop many from facing hardship. At Mind we’ve seen a 30% rise compared to this time last year in the number of people getting in touch with our helplines about difficulties they’ve been experiencing with finances and personal debt. Many of our callers tell us they are right on the edge with their finances, and this is having a direct impact on their mental health. These people need more than just token gestures of grants that arrive somewhere down the line.
"With the energy price cap due to go up by another £800 later this year and living costs continuing to spiral, much of the temporary support being offered to people will be eaten up quickly. There are also many months between now and when some of the assistance will reach those in need – how will families who’ve been hit twice by income cuts in the last year afford to feed and heat themselves until the support arrives?
“So while we do welcome this emergency package by the Chancellor, he must not rest on his laurels and believe the problem is solved. People struggling on the lowest incomes need real, systematic change that can stop them from facing destitution during this financial crisis.”