Glamorgan Gem Column | Chris Elmore MP
Child Poverty is Set to Soar: The UK Government Needs to Wake Up
A leading UK think tank has found that the number of children living in poverty will rocket to a record 5.2 million over the next 5 years. This will mark a reversal of the progress made over the past two decades. Behind this statistic, one thing is clear: the UK Government must act to prevent this situation from happening.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that the reasons behind this lie at the government’s door. Freezing benefits, the haphazard introduction of Universal Credit and new rules on child tax credit claims are causing a surge in child poverty. This situation is set to be having the biggest impact in the most deprived regions across the UK.
The austerity measures implemented over the past seven years of Tory government are a political choice. A choice has clearly been made to give tax cuts to big corporations whilst removing the safety net the state provides for those who are barely on the bread line. This is both morally and economically disgusting.
What should and must happen now is a step change. We cannot go on like this and drag more and more of the poorest in our society further into debt and destitution. One key first step which would help improve the situation of many across our communities is an immediate pause to the roll-out of Universal Credit. The new benefit is set to reach our area around March next year. We’ve seen from the areas where this has been clumsily implemented that it is driving families into poverty and, in the worst cases, encouraging homelessness. Theresa May needs to pause this roll-out before it is allowed to inflict damage on our communities. To blindly continue with this roll-out would send a crystal clear message that this government is happy to accept the findings of the IFS.
To put this into perspective: if you started a Universal Credit claim last week, it is unlikely that you would receive any money until after Christmas day. Could you get through the festive period without your November and December pay cheque? I’m sure that government ministers could but it would be much more difficult for an individual or family currently struggling to make ends meet.
Austerity must be challenged to prevent our fight against poverty from backsliding.