Iain Porter, Senior Policy Adviser for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation RespondS to confirmation that new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is to keep Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in post
Families on low incomes desperately need stability and certainty, as they try to afford the essentials, pay their rent, and keep food on the table. Rishi Sunak personally pledged to go ahead with the usual uprating of benefits in line with inflation, and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt promised last week that he would take action to protect the most vulnerable and to act with compassion.
The new government must show it is as serious about protecting its citizens from harm as well as it is about calming the markets. It can do this by moving quickly to take away a huge source of anxiety for millions and confirming that benefits will be uprated as soon as possible in line with September's inflation rate of 10.1% - a position the public agree with.
Previous decisions not to go ahead with the normal uprating of benefits, cutting the value of support, mean that current rates are leaving households unable to afford the bare essentials. This inadequate safety net has caused rising debt, foodbank use and homelessness even before this crisis. Even if benefits are uprated in line with inflation, the usual bare minimum the government can do, rates of support will still be in the lowest levels we've seen in decades.
The cost of living crisis continues to intensify and the review on help with energy bills will be an important part of ensuring that support is sufficient and effectively targeted at those who need it. People on the lowest incomes will need to know that whatever is announced in the upcoming fiscal statement, this is a government which has listened and will protect the worst off from the frightening rises in the cost of living.