The government has now confirmed that the freeze on benefit payments, announced in the 2015 Budget, will end in 2020. The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that working-age benefits, such as Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance, will rise by 1.7% from April 2020.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: “We’re clear the best way for people to improve their lives is through work, but we know some people require additional support.
“Our balanced fiscal approach has built a strong economy, with 3.6 million more people in work since 2010. And it’s that strong economy which allows us to bolster the welfare safety net by increasing benefit payments for working-age claimants now.”
Responding to this announcement, Jon Sparkes, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “Everyone across Britain should be able to rent a safe, affordable home where they can build their lives from. So, it’s extremely disappointing to see the government’s commitment to lift the freeze on housing benefit fall short of enabling people to afford to keep their homes.
“Right now, families on the lowest incomes are facing agonising stress and anxiety because they cannot afford to pay their rent. This is made all the worse when we know it doesn’t have to be this way. Our research shows that by investing in housing benefit, so it covers the true cost of rents, government could lift more than 35,000 children out of poverty.
“Putting families at risk of homelessness cannot be allowed to continue. We can make renting affordable for everyone, but we need to see all parties commit to investing in housing benefit rates, so they cover at least the cheapest third of rents across the country. The time for action is now.”
It is estimated that the benefits increase will cost £5bn. Ministers have stated that this decision to end the freeze will help 10 million people.