Rebecca McDonald, Senior Economist at JRF responds to new inflation figures
Inflation has hit a 40-year high. Yet last month, with prices already climbing, the Chancellor chose not to uprate benefits in line with inflation, leaving the basic rate of benefits at its lowest for 35 years. Cuts and freezes to our social security system over the last decade left millions of families on low incomes struggling with the cost of living long before this crisis hit. Now, as the price of essentials like food and energy continue to soar, the Chancellor's inaction will make an already desperate situation for many even worse.
The human cost of benefits lagging so far behind inflation is severe: parents skipping meals so their children can eat, families using a single lightbulb to limit electricity use, people cutting back on showers to save water. Allowing this to happen is a choice, and the government can and must choose differently.
For a start, the government can ensure that benefits match the real cost of living by increasing them in line with inflation. The government should then address the fundamental inadequacy of our social security system so that it actually provides the support it should.