Poverty Alliance respond to Chancellor’s economic statement

The Poverty Alliance have responded to today’s economic update statement from Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said:

Young workers have been hard hit by Covid-19 job disruption, so the Chancellor’s announcement of a kickstart jobs scheme is welcome. But as the pandemic has highlighted, for too long people have been locked into poverty by low pay and insecure work. So these jobs should pay at least the real Living Wage and should have been accompanied by measures to tackle the precarious work that too many young people have to rely on. Part-time jobs that pay only the minimum wage cannot be a long-term solution to the problems in our labour market. Our recovery should be based on principles of fair work; that means redesigning jobs not reinforcing current problems.
With the confirmation that the Job Retention Scheme is to end in October, the statement was an opportunity to fix our social security system before an expected surge in applications in autumn. Increasing the numbers of Work Coaches is welcome, but if we want our economic recovery to be a recovery for all, we need a social security system that loosens – not tightens – the grip of poverty on people’s lives. That means ending the benefit cap, making advance Universal Credit payments non-repayable, and ensuring that benefits actually meet people’s needs. There is still time to make these changes before October and we urge the government to make them.
The announcement of vouchers to support the hospitality sector falls short of expectations. At a time when more people than ever before are relying on emergency help from food banks, it is action to put cash in people’s pockets that is required, not the offer of a £10 discount on eating out.

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