APPG launches call for evidence for inquiry into the (in)adequacy of social security
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Poverty is launching an inquiry looking into the (in)adequacy of the social security benefit rates, focusing on benefits for working-age people and their children.
While the announcement in the Autumn Statement that benefits would be uprated in line with the September inflation rate next April was welcome, the question of the underlying (in)adequacy of the benefit rates remains a vital one, as does the problems created by the delay in uprating at a time of high inflation.
In April 2022, benefits were uprated by 3.1% – the level of inflation from the previous September. By April, inflation had climbed to 9%, meaning millions of people receiving benefits faced real-term cuts to their incomes. Even before this, anti-poverty charities had been warning about the erosion of social security due to a decade of cuts and freezes, leaving social security entitlement insufficient to meet people’s needs.
The Work and Pensions Committee raised the issue of inadequacy in the last of two reports following their inquiry into the cost of living earlier this year. The Committee highlights that not only does the UK have one of the lowest levels of social security entitlement as a percentage of GDP among OECD averages, but the UK has in place policies that push families into poverty, such as the benefit cap. The report goes on to state that the existence and continued funding of the Household Support Fund – a discretionary fund delivered by local authorities to households in need – underlines that benefits are “already set at subsistence levels for most, leaving no capacity for individuals to cope with short term shocks.” (p.18)
This provoked the question – in times of rising inflation, is the current uprating process the best way to uprate benefits? In addition, what level should social security entitlement be, and how should this level be decided?
Please submit all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, 9th January 2023.
Questions to consider
Please limit submissions to 4 sides maximum, and the use of bullet points is encouraged.
- To what extent are current levels of social security benefit rates effective in achieving the aim of alleviating poverty?
- To what extent do you think families and individuals receive enough from the social security system to meet their needs?
- How should we decide on an adequate level of social security entitlement? (Distinct from the uprating process)
- How well does the current level of social security entitlement meet the needs of claimants?
- We’re interested in receiving information about all demographic groups (other than pensioners, who will be the subject of a later inquiry) regardless of employment status and including the position of disabled people and survivors of domestic abuse.
- Uprating process
- How well is the current process of uprating benefits working?
- What are the alternatives to the current practice of uprating benefits in April based on last September’s inflation rate?
N.B. – While the APPG is very interested in the issues affecting migrant groups and pensioners around social security, for this inquiry, we have decided not to focus on these groups. However, the APPG will explore the specific issues facing these groups in more detail in a later inquiry.