Northampton Hope Centre 'appalled' by Spring Statement and calls for benefits to be raised in line with inflation

Up to half a million children are expected to slip into absolute poverty by next year

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 4:03 pm

The CEO of Hope Centre Northampton has said that the charity sector is “appalled” by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement and has called for benefits to be raised in line with inflation, among other proposals.

Robin Burgess has been warning for months that poverty, and its subsequent demands on food bank-providing charities like the Hope Centre, have been rising steeply since the exit from lockdown and the subsequent spike in bills.

Now that everyone has seen the Spring Statement from Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Mr Burgess said that “desperate” times are likely to follow.

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The Chancellor has said that more measures could be introduced later in the year to combat rising poverty levels.

He said: “In common with almost every other charity that is concerned with poverty and lower incomes, we are appalled that there are no real measures in place to support the most at-risk and marginalised people in our communities.

"Every single analysis done by respected bodies like the Resolution Foundation make the case that none of the proposed measures make an impact.

“The impact on our communities will be desperate. Everybody will begin to suffer.

“We’re already seeing donations reduced because people are having to tighten their belts to fend off rising household expenses. Just imagine what it will be like for the people out of work, on low or no incomes.

"We will see people on basic state pensions freezing to death in their own homes as they increasingly have to choose between heating and eating. Some people will fail to do either.

"I also worry, although this is less likely, that we could see an increase in crime along with poverty. More people could start turning to prostitution or selling drugs just to get by. It’s a sad thing to say, but we know it happens.”

Mr Burgess said that, as a minimum, his and other charities want to see benefits raised to be kept in line with inflation, as well as the reinstatement of the £20 universal credit uplift that was introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic before coming to an end late last year.

To support his claims, the CEO referred to sources like the Resolution Foundation’s “Inflation Nation” report which was not alone in forecasting a grim few years.

The foundation pointed out that tax receipts have come in much stronger in 2021-22 than expected, with lasting improvement predicted at around £35 billion a year, leaving borrowing across the forecast period at £25.6 billion lower than expected in the Autumn.

Yet these positive signs have not been translated into relief for the poorest in the UK, as the data reportedly shows.

Parts of the report read: "The Chancellor set himself two tasks: to offer the public some protection against the surging cost of living next year, and to show the Conservative Party that he is a tax cutter. He set out significant packages on both fronts. But his refusal to target support at low and middle-income households next year, and previously announced tax rises, meant he has fallen well short of both goals.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that more financial support could be announced later this year, but that he could not solve “every problem”.