Glasgow constituencies at risk of hardship if benefits rise with wages not inflation
Three Glasgow constituencies are among those that will be most affected if the UK Government chooses not to uprate means-tested benefits in line with inflation, new analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has revealed.
The social-change charity has analysed the impact uprating benefits in line with earnings rather than inflation would have in all UK constituencies, finding that in three English areas and two in Northern Ireland at least half of all working-age families would be affected.
In Scotland the biggest impact would be felt in Glasgow South West, Glasgow East and Glasgow North East, where just under 40 per cent of families receive means-tested benefits.
Other areas that will be affected include Glenrothes, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire, where around a third of families receive working-age benefits.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to increase all benefits in line with inflation, which is currently running at 10 per cent.
While the government is required by law to do that for disability benefits and the carers allowance – both of which are devolved to Scotland – Liz Truss’s government has indicated that working-age benefits such as Universal Credit and child benefit – which are reserved – may be increased in line with the rise in average wages, which this year is lower than inflation at six per cent.
Senior Tories including former chancellor Sajid Javid have urged the government to honour the inflation-linked promise, but yesterday work and pensions minister Victoria Prentis told Sky News that no decision would be taken on the matter until next month.
Katie Schmuecker, Joseph Rowntree Foundation principal policy adviser, warned that using earnings rather than inflation as the uprating measure would subject people in some of the poorest parts of the country to “the biggest real-terms permanent cut ever made [to benefits] in a single year”.
“Politicians should think long and hard about the impact of withholding hundreds of pounds from thousands of families in their constituencies when the basic rate of benefits is already at its lowest in real terms for 40 years and prices are sky high,” she said.
“We know millions of families have already gone without the essentials this year, missing meals, not cooking hot food or having hot showers. We know people have gone into arrears on their bills or taking on debt to pay for the basics.
“It is unconscionable that the government should be considering cutting their ability to pay for what they need. The government must realise how catastrophic it would be to refuse to respect their own party’s pledge to make sure the value of benefits keeps up with prices.
“The majority of people agree the right thing to do is help the most vulnerable during this extraordinary crisis. The impact will be felt across every constituency in the UK. Now is the time for all MPs to stand up and be counted.”