Thousands of people tell Rishi Sunak to keep his benefits promise – at the very least
Almost 15,000 people have signed a petition, organised by Mind and submitted to the Treasury, calling on the UK government to increase benefits at least in line with inflation, and to bring forward that increase to as soon as possible.
In May, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, reassured households that benefits would be uprated in line with September’s consumer price index, which subsequently showed inflation at 10.1%. Some goods, such as dairy products and pasta, have actually increased by more than 30%.
However, later statements, first from ministers in former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s government, and more recently during Prime Minister’s Question Time from now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, suggest that the UK government is no longer committed to making sure that benefits rise in line with price increases on household essentials.
If the UK government does not uprate benefits at least in line with inflation it will be responsible for the biggest permanent real-terms cut to the basic rate of benefits in a single year. People have already experienced a real-terms cut to their benefits this year, as payments were only increased by 3% in April 2022, significantly lower than inflation has been.
Mind is already seeing the impact on the people it helps who claim benefits – calls to our Infoline about the cost of living have increased by 40% since last year, with the majority of this increase due to people seeking support with managing their benefits.
Sophie Corlett, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Mind, said:
“Increasing benefits at least in line with inflation, so those who are on the lowest incomes can afford the absolute basics, is essential. People are on the very edge with their finances right now, but none more so than those who have to rely on the benefits system to get by, many of whom are people with mental health problems.
“It was only 6 months ago that Rishi Sunak himself – then Chancellor – reassured us that benefits would be raised in line with inflation. Going back on that assurance should be unthinkable, and yet the UK government has still not committed to increasing benefit rates. The only consideration that should be taking place is how soon they can bring this increase forward.
“Not increasing benefits in line with inflation will lead to more poverty, and more poverty will lead to increased levels of poor mental health. This increase must happen. Thank you to every single person who agreed with this, and signed our petition. The UK government must now listen to every single one of you, and not only increase benefits at least in line with inflation, but bring forward that increase to as soon as possible.”
The final signature count on Mind’s petition was 14,681.