UK Government autumn statement 2022 – OPFS Response
UK Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt announced the UK Government financial update in his autumn statement on 17 November.
Many single parents will be thankful that the normal social security benefit uprating with inflation will go ahead. However, this increase should be implemented before Christmas as families who are struggling now cannot wait until April for the system to catch up. We want to be clear that the normal annual uprating should never have been in question, particularly in the context of benefit levels being deeply inadequate and that this has meant many single parents and their children going without food and heating .
As the UK heads into recession, high inflation and harsh economic times will continue to put unacceptable pressure on families with children. The OBR report show ‘Real Household Disposable Income’ will fall more than 7% over next two years. The biggest fall on record and taking incomes down to 2013 levels. Unfortunately, the short-term cost of living support packages announced by the government to date do not match up to the magnitude of the challenge.
- Marion Davis, , Head of Policy and Strategy, OPFS
Lower-income families are already at breaking point and are looking to the government to demonstrate that they will honour their promise to protect the most vulnerable. The Chancellor has failed to fulfil this promise to take urgent action to prevent and reduce child poverty. We need sustained investment in social security that protects those most in need and to reverse the cuts to social security made since 2010. In this respect we are extremely disappointed that the Chancellor has not abolished the ‘two – child limit’ and benefit cap -cuts which create child poverty in so many single parent families. The policy that means young mothers under 25yrs receive less universal credit than parents over 25yrs, resulting in 55% of their children living in poverty is still in place .
The Chancellor announced that 600,000 more people on Universal Credit will face stricter requirements to look for work or face their benefits being cut. Many single parents in part-time jobs will need to prove they are looking for more work. This announcement contradicts countless studies showing that this punitive approach is ineffective, affects child and family wellbeing , putting pressure on single parents who are already stressed.
- Marion Davis, Head of Policy and Strategy, OPFS
As parents struggle to protect their children from a devastating cost-of-living crisis, this renewed offensive on low-income families is the wrong move at the worst time. A truly effective social security system should create financial security for families. Instead, the Chancellor has done more to intensify shame and stigma around a system that should protect , not punish.
We believe that those with the very least in our society should not carry the burden of spending cuts and tax rises and should be protected over the coming year as they continue to struggle to afford rising prices. We are extremely concerned about the impact on single parent families of cuts to public services. They have already been weakened by 10 years of UK government austerity going into the pandemic of 2020. Single Parents, the majority of whom are women, are more likely to work in public services, rely on public services, and become the providers of last resort when public services are withdrawn. Cuts to the public sector are a gendered issue and women, especially single mothers, can’t afford to pay the price of austerity again.