More families to be ‘pulled into poverty’ over continued benefits freeze

More families are likely to be “pulled into poverty” because of the continued freeze on working age benefits and tax credits, according to a new report.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said it was “unjustifiable” for the freeze to continue for another year from Monday.

Families living in poverty will be left £560 worse off on average over the next year, said the organisation.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the JRF said: “In the midst of huge political and economic uncertainty, families who have already seen their support eroded know that the coming year will be hard to get through.

“It’s not right that more parents will face impossible situations, trying to decide which essential bills to pay and what they can cut back on to make it through each week.

“Keeping benefits and tax credits frozen is unjustifiable. Around 4.1 million children are now locked in poverty, nearly three quarters of whom are in a working household.

“The risks of economic uncertainty should not be allowed to disproportionally affect those with no leeway in their finances. Ending the freeze is the right thing to do and would have helped working families stay afloat.

“As the Government approaches its spending review, it needs to look at how best to protect people from harm who are otherwise left without an anchor in uncertain times.”

A Government spokesman said: “Under the last government, the welfare budget increased by 65% in real terms, getting it completely out of kilter with wages and making it unsustainable.

“That, combined with the fiscal pressure we faced in 2010, made it inevitable that we had to take action, but we have made it clear that we have no intention of repeating the current freeze.

“When it is over, increases in benefits will resume in line with CPI in the normal way.”

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