Debt help charity, Christians Against Poverty (CAP), is pleading with the Government to use everything at its disposal to help those on the lowest incomes through the coming months.
CAP’s Director of External Affairs, Gareth McNab, says “With all the rising costs, the incomes of many people already don’t cover the basics and that’s a big reason why Christians Against Poverty is seeing a significant increase in demand for its free debt help in many parts of the UK.
“Calls to our debt helpline went up 47% this January compared to last, and requests for emergency fuel vouchers have also doubled in the first two months of this year compared to the first two months of 2021- highlighting the impact of the energy crisis.
“Churches across the UK are working tirelessly to support their local communities. Many are working alongside CAP to help people out of debt and offer a lifeline with other practical and emotional support. But without swift Government action to increase support for people on low incomes, it’s likely more and more people we help to break free of debt will be having money nightmares again months later because they just don’t have enough income to stay out of debt.
“When you have less money coming in than the cost of just your essential bills, your options are extremely limited. You can only tighten your belt so far before it breaks and the reality is many people are at breaking point with their finances.”
What CAP want the UK Government to do:
– Pause deductions to Universal Credit until inflation returns to a stable level. The Government did this at the start of the pandemic, but it’s arguably needed even more now. CAP feels the very least the Government can do is pause deducting Universal Credit Advance payments, Council Tax arrears in England and tax credit debts from those on the lowest incomes during a cost of living crisis.
– Change how the UK uprates social security to ensure they’re in line with inflation. With the situation changing so fast, the UK Government must do more to ensure people have a chance of staying out of debt and poverty. Increasing social security by just 3.1% when inflation is expected to be at least 8% isn’t giving people a realistic chance to weather the storm, and would be the second substantial cut to the incomes of people on Universal Credit in just six months. The increase must be higher until rates stabilise again.
– Conduct a cost of living review. Government needs to make sure social security fulfills its role in providing everyone with a liveable income through whatever changes come our way in life. CAP feels now is the right time for them to commit to reviewing how much money people actually need to live on because currently many are receiving below the amount sufficient to meet even the most basic of needs during this current cost of living crisis.
Gareth continued, “The Spring Statement is a big opportunity for the Chancellor to show urgency, strong leadership, and that he truly cares about the millions of people living on low incomes desperately needing Government intervention.
“We are urging Rishi Sunak to pause Universal Credit benefit deductions, increase social security to better match inflation and conduct a cost of living review. These three steps will begin to help low-income households meet the higher cost of living.
“We need action now to support people through the shock of higher prices, make sure households can afford the ongoing increased costs for the months and years to come and avoid falling into problem debt.”
If you are struggling with debt and need help, get in contact with CAP today on 0800 328 0006 or visit capuk.org.