After the recent Budget Members from across the House expressed concerns on this issue, including some senior MPs telling Government that continuing the freeze on benefits in place since 2010 was “immoral”.
The previous Work and Pensions Committee inquired into the Local welfare safety net in response to changes in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 - which replaced several centrally administered schemes with locally run provision - and further changes in the Summer 2015 Budget.
It looked at whether these changes represented “localism in action” or rather created a postcode lottery of service provision, with people falling through the gaps or “holes” in the welfare safety net and the costs shunted on to local authorities, services and charities.
The Committee concluded that Welfare reforms risk leading people into severe hardship and called on Government to:
- Ensure reforms such as the benefit cap do not inadvertently penalise groups who cannot actually adapt to it or offset its effects, and that appropriate mitigation strategies are in place. For example, some claimants cannot find or move to cheaper housing, because none is available, or cannot move in to work because they are a single parent and there is no appropriate childcare in their area.
- Conduct robust, cross-departmental evaluation on the impact of local schemes on the most vulnerable households
- Co-ordinate with local government better to ensure more consistent quality of provision
Since then indicators suggest chronic deprivation is on the rise. These include numbers of households in temporary accommodation, rough sleepers, and people referred to foodbanks.
More information can be found here:
Further information on the parliamentary inquiry
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