To say it was all good news would definitely be going too far, but the Autumn statement definitely wasn’t as bad as it could have been for claimants.
More details will need to emerge, but here are some of the main highlights.
Benefits will go up by 10.1% next April, in line with the September 2022 Consumer price Index. Given the hints that benefits might only rise by 5% in line with wages, this is good news.
But inflation is already running at 11.1% and uprating does not apply until next April, so this is already a real terms cut.
In addition, people on low incomes spend a much larger part of their money on food and energy, which are particular drivers of inflation at present. So the real rate of inflation for many claimants has been calculated as between 14% and 20%, meaning a very serious cut in income.
In Scotland, where some benefits are devolved, and in Northern Ireland where all benefits are devolved, it will be up to the devolved governments to decide on the level of uprating, though it seems likely they will follow Westminster’s lead.
ESA to UC migration
The government is pushing back the forced migration of claimants from income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) to universal credit (UC) to 2028. It was due to be completed in 2024, with an impossible target of 2.5 million claimants being moved in that year.
So the fact that it is being delayed is good news. The downside is that many thousand more claimants will now be subject to ‘natural migration’ because of a change of circumstances and will lose out on the transitional protection that managed migration claimants receive.
Claimants receiving child tax credit are not included in this postponement.
Cost of living payments
There will be more cost of living payments next year.
- Households on means-tested benefits will get an additional £900 Cost of Living payment in 2023-24.
- Pensioner households will receive an additional £300 Cost of Living payment.
- Individuals on disability benefits will receive an additional £150 Disability Cost of Living payment in 2023-24.
These payments will be made on a UK-wide basis.
These additional sums are clearly good news, but they will not be enough to make-up for the increased costs many claimants will be facing.
The benefit cap will be raised by 10.1% from April 2023.
The cap will be raised from £20,000 to £22,020 for families nationally and from £23,000 to £25,323 in Greater London.
For single adults it will be raised from £13,400 to £14,753 nationally and from £15,410 to £16,967 in Greater London.