The benefits freeze will finally end in April 2020, the government announced yesterday.
A tweet by the DWP yesterday claimed that “more than 10 million people can look forward to an income boost, as working-age benefits will rise by the rate of inflation in April.”
According to the DWP “2.5 million people on universal credit will receive more money as well as claimants on legacy benefits.”
However, the increase is just 1.7%, meaning that according to the DWP’s own calculations a couple on UC will receive just £100 a year more.
There has been much criticism of the announcement being made at the start of an election campaign, as the benefits freeze was due to end in April 2020 in any case.
The planned increase will be the first in 5 years, since the freeze was introduced by Conservative chancellor George Osborne..
According to a Resolution Foundation report, the freeze has left claimants 6% worse off than they would have been.
The Foundation argues that:
“In fact, the real value of basic out-of-work support in 2019-20 is – at £73 a week (£3,800 a year) – lower than it was in 1991-92, despite GDP per capita having grown by more than 50 per cent since then.”
Even more shamefully, the Resolution Foundation points out that:
“Relative to earnings, unemployment support has fallen to a record low of 14 per cent, down from 27 per cent at the emergence of the Beveridge system . . . Similarly, compared to average earnings, child benefit for a second child is now (at 2.7 per cent) less than half as generous as it was in 1979-80 or 1946-47 (5.9 per cent), and still falling.”
The Labour party condemned the announcement, arguing:
“Nobody will be fooled by this cynically timed announcement, which even now will leave the benefits freeze in place until next April. Harsh, punitive Conservative policies like the benefits freeze, the two-child limit and the five-week wait have created a society where people are being forced to turn to food banks in ever-increasing numbers just to survive.”