DWP: Unemployment benefits 'will hit lowest real value in three DECADES' this April

The Resolution Foundation said unemployment benefits have fallen far behind the growth of child or housing benefits since WW2, with people who aren’t eligible for top-ups pushed ‘near to destitution’

Unemployment benefits will hit their lowest real value in more than three decades this April, a think tank says today.

The Resolution Foundation said the system will be worth just £77.29 a week in a “porous safety net” that has sent child poverty rising from 27% to 31%.

That is despite soaring house prices sending housing benefit spending soaring five-fold since the 1980s, while child-related benefits have overtaken unemployment benefits in generosity.

A report by the RF says “too much” of the work in supporting incomes is done by these extra benefits.

Its authors say: “That strategy in itself has been undermined by recent cuts to the way that support is provided to those with children and to renters.

“But it is also unsustainable to let benefits for groups who do not qualify for the top-ups fall to near-destitution levels.”

RF economist Karl Handscomb said Britain now has “a benefits system that makes little attempt to provide basic levels of income support, but doing more to support households with specific costs like housing and children.

“With even those cost-related benefits cut back over the past decade, we go into the 2020s with a porous safety net.

“The result is the poorest members of society are being left further behind.”

Today’s report says people receiving unemployment benefit on its own are receiving only slightly more than would tip them into destitution.

It adds the welfare system is “almost unrecognisable” to that created after the Second World War.

Alex Beer, programme head at the Nuffield Foundation, added: “As this research shows, over time the protection given to people who lose their jobs has fallen to a level that only just enables them to avoid destitution and that is damaging not only to the people affected but also to the ability of our society to respond to economic change.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Our welfare system offers a safety net while providing vital employment support to help claimants into work and towards financial independence.

“We know work is the best route out of poverty, that’s why our Plan for Jobs is supporting people across the country to boost their skills and take the next step in their careers. Working families on Universal Credit are seeing on average £1,000 more a year in their pockets and we’re increasing the living wage again in April by 6.6% to £9.50 an hour – £1,000 a year for a full time worker.

For the most vulnerable, including those who can’t work, additional support is available through schemes such as the Warm Home Discount and our £500m Household Support Fund.”

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