The welfare safety net is not fit for purpose for people living on the breadline

The welfare safety net is not fit for purpose for people living on the breadline according to the findings of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into the Welfare Safety Net which has been published today.

The report highlights the dire impact of welfare reforms which are “pushing some people not only into poverty but into hunger and destitution”.

It quotes from oral evidence provided by Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick of I-SPHERE.

The chronic problem that is driving destitution and indeed poverty is that working-age benefits are paid at far too low a level now and have been for a number of years. Obviously this has been exacerbated by the benefit freeze, so that they are losing value year on year.

What this means is that people living on these benefits, on the working age benefits, are unable to withstand any kind of minor – even very minor – income or expenditure shock

– Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Director, Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE)

The report highlights that single parent families and disabled people are hardest hit in overall picture of “target-busting savings” borne by poorest.

The committee makes a series of recommendations for Government on reversing the drivers of poverty amongst different groups, unfreezing and increasing benefit payments and improving DWP measures of poverty and destitution and strengthening the impact and accountability of the department.

Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “The Government has shown that it can make target-busting savings through devastating, cumulative cuts to the incomes of the poor, by capping and freezing benefits that was begun under the Coalition Government. Likewise, there is now no effective strategy to increase the life chances of poorer children. It has failed to recognise the unacceptably bleak picture emerging as it shreds our social safety net because it doesn’t really look.”

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