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Achieving income security for all

1 September 2019

Achieving income security for all [ 0.76 mb]

Our benefits system exists to provide a financial safety net for people during times of need - whether to support those in low-paid work or who are unemployed, parents who need additional help with bringing up children, or disabled people who may face higher living costs. 

However, new findings from Citizens Advice show that many people on benefits are struggling to make ends meet and pay for the essentials. We see these problems first hand, and last year we helped 580,000 with their benefits across England and Wales.

We surveyed people receiving benefits that have been frozen since 2016. In the last 12 months: 

  • Half (49%) have struggled to meet essential costs such as rent, household bills and food

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) have fallen behind on rent or mortgage payments

  • Over a third (39%) have less than £100 left at the end of each month after covering essential costs

Our report outlines changes to our benefits system that would help ensure everyone gets the support they need. We want Government to: 

Ensure people on benefits have enough to live on 

  • Uprate the value of frozen benefits by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) plus 2% for four years.

  • Recalculate the Local Housing Allowance to re-establish the link with rental prices.

  • Set out plans to ensure benefit rates provide adequate support to meet the needs of specific groups, such as parents with children and disabled people.

Ensure greater flexibility within Universal Credit 

  • Reduce the five-week wait by bringing forward the first non-repayable payment to no later than two weeks into a Universal Credit claim. 

  • Explore more flexible assessment periods and payment cycles to ensure people are paid in a way which reflects their personal circumstances.