Universal Credit rate must keep up with inflation to avoid more people relying on foodbanks - MP

February 11, 2022 4:22 PM
Originally published by Tim Farron

On the floor of the House of Commons this week, South Lakes MP urged ministers to bring Universal Credit in line with the cost of living to avoid thousands of local residents being plunged into destitution.

On Monday, MPs voted through the annual pensions and benefits uprating order, designed to bring a whole range of social security benefits in line with inflation and the cost of living. However, this year it could actually mean a real-terms cut in the living standards for millions.

The increase voted through was 3.1 per cent, but it is based on last September's inflation figures. Inflation is currently at 5.4 per cent and the Bank of England are forecasting that inflation will reach 7.25% by April, leading to more expensive energy bills and pricier food in the shops.

Speaking during a debate in Parliament on the cost of living crisis, Tim said: "Too little is being done to help those whose need is greatest. With inflation predicted for 7.25%, the 3.1% benefits uprating will lead to utter destitution.

"It is not just about physical hardship, but about the misery, shame and lack of dignity that go with it and the stress and mental health problems that go with abject poverty, when people cannot afford to feed their children, pay the rent or put fuel in their car to get to work - if they are lucky enough to have a car.

"Kendal in my constituency is not a huge town by most people's standards, yet Linda Sutherland's wonderful team at King's Food Bank in Kendal provided 48,225 meals last year, which was 50% more than in 2020.

"The massive demand for services from people in desperate need tells us that we are doing something seriously wrong as a country."