The Chief Executive of Changing Lives, Stephen Bell OBE, shares his thoughts on the government's Spending Review and Budget released this week.
Today’s Spending Review includes some welcome announcements for people who are facing some of the toughest challenges imaginable – homelessness, abuse and exploitation, addiction, long-term unemployment and more. This includes, for example, £640m annually to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.
But in many areas the Chancellor has not gone far enough. The people we support at Changing Lives have been among the most affected by the challenges of the pandemic, leading to soaring demand and a significant increase in the number of people in our services who are experiencing extreme poverty, poor mental health, and increased risk of abuse and violence.
The Government’s decision to end the uplift of Universal Credit earlier this month, at a time when the cost of living is increasing and vital safeguards such as the furlough scheme and evictions ban have come to an end, has already pushed people further into poverty.
The Chancellor’s announcement to change the Universal Credit taper rate today will undoubtedly offer some relief for people who are in work – alongside a commitment to increasing public sector pay and the National Living Wage. But for those who are not in work, and who face many barriers to employment, this Budget offers too little.
The Government’s ambition to level up our economy will not be served by driving people into further poverty and deprivation. More must be done to ensure that we build back better for everyone.