Advice NI slams Spending Review proposals as ‘inadequate’ and represent a ‘continuing attack on our poorest households’

Reacting to the Spending Review announcement by the Chancellor, Advice NI, today warned that the spending plans for the coming year have done little to assist those who have suffered from the harshest effects of austerity over the last decade.

Bob Stronge, Advice NI Chief Executive said:

“People out of work and in low paid work are struggling to survive as a result of the four year benefit freeze, the 2 child cap, the problems associated with the rollout of Universal Credit including the minimum 5 week wait for the first payment and the raft of cuts to the social security system in recent years.

In Northern Ireland we face the additional crisis of Brexit uncertainty, no Assembly, no Ministers, no Scrutiny Committees and the looming mitigations cliffedge in March 2020.

In this context of hardship and crisis we are deeply disappointed by the inadequate announcements in the Spending Review which actually amount to a continuing attack on our poorest households.”

Advice NI believes that the issue of the benefit freeze is crucial. Benefit uprating is the act of increasing the value of benefits to account for inflation. In 2011, the then Government changed the measure of inflation used in uprating, from the Retail Prices Index (RPI) to the lower Consumer Prices Index (CPI). From 2013, a further change meant that most working-age benefits were uprated by just 1% . In 2015, the Chancellor announced that working-age benefits would be frozen in cash terms until 2020. The outcome is that already low rates of benefit have become divorced from the real costs of living.

Advice NI is calling for Government to urgently end the freeze and apply an inflationary increase to benefits and Local Housing Allowance which is proportionate and addresses the hardship imposed on working age benefit claimants since 2011.