Dr Arianna Giovannini, interim director of IPPR North, responds to the Spring Statement
This Spring Statement was the Chancellor's opportunity to put public money where government's mouth is. But he seriously missed the mark and failed to announce the substantial measures needed to support people on the lowest incomes, and level up the UK. This puts at risk the credibility of the government's flagship levelling up agenda - which barely featured in the Chancellor's speech - with real, dramatic consequences for people's lives.
People in the North will now rightly begin to question whether the government is serious about its pledge to raise prosperity and close regional divides. The growing chasm between rhetoric and reality is all too familiar to us.
The only way to change this is for the Chancellor to return to Parliament and deliver a concrete investment plan now, alongside a set of targeted policies that improve people's lives, to show that the levelling up agenda is not just another empty promise.
On energy, Jonathan Webb, a senior research fellow at IPPR North said:
Over one million households in the north of England are currently experiencing fuel poverty. With energy costs set to rise further next month, this number is only going to grow. The Spring Statement has simply not gone far enough.
The government can and must make it affordable for people to heat their homes right now. This means providing more immediate, direct financial support that covers the cost of energy increases and avoids asking for money back at a later date.
An ambitious programme of housing retrofit, combined with greater financial support to help low-income households to install options like heat pumps, is essential to prevent further energy crises, protect families, and the planet in the future. This must go further than the promised VAT cuts for home insulation, which won't create a significant incentive for low-income households and will do little to help those that do not own their own home and are reliant on their landlord to improve their property.
On the cost of living, Erica Roscoe, a senior research fellow at IPPR North said:
Across the North we've seen in work poverty increase over the last decade and we now find ourselves facing the most significant cost of living crisis in a generation which is inevitably going to see the 3.5 million people across the North fall deeper into poverty despite being in work, alongside thousands more as prices increase while wages remain the same.
The Chancellor had the opportunity today to support those on the lowest incomes - people who are going to be hit the hardest by this crisis - by using our social security system effectively and he has chosen not to do so. Those on the lowest incomes need to be offered support most urgently through measures like re-instating the Universal Credit uplift and increasing the value and eligibility of support for those hardest hit.
Contact: Rosie Lockwood, head of media and advocacy for IPPR North, on 07585772633 or email@example.com.
Spokespeople available for interview: Arianna Giovannini is available for virtual interviews before 3pm. Jonathan Webb is available for virtual interviews anytime. Erica Roscoe is available for in person interviews in Manchester anytime. Please contact Rosie Lockwood to book.
IPPR North is the leading think-tank for the north of England, developing bold ideas for a stronger economy and prosperous places and people. For more information, visit ippr.org/north.