A new report by Oxfam and the New Policy Institute says the coalition’s welfare cuts have pushed 1.75 million of the UK’s poorest households deeper into poverty, leaving more families struggling to cover food and energy bills.
The report highlights a drop in the overall value of benefits, which rose by less than inflation, as well as changes to housing benefit and council tax support that have forced some families into paying housing costs they were previously deemed too poor to pay.
The report found that 300,000 households have experienced a cut in housing benefit, 920,000 a reduction in council tax support and 480,000 a cut in both.
As a result of these cuts in housing benefit and changes to council tax support, around 1.75 million or the poorest families have seen an absolute cut in their income. Of these, 480,000 families are seeing their benefits being cut twice as they are affected by more than one of the changes. Whether a family is affected and by how much varies based on a range of factors which are largely out of the control of the individual. They depend on council tax band, the cost of local housing, family size and property size. But they all apply irrespective of income. The government needs to instate an ‘absolute minimum’ level of support. It should apply regardless of local authority or tenure and it should be high enough to prevent people from having to walk the breadline