“Enough to be able to live, not just survive”: new APPG on Poverty report into the (in)adequacy of social security

Tue,27 June 2023
News Benefits
Following a spring 2023 inquiry, the All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs on Poverty (APPG) has published a report into the (in)adequacy of social security benefits.

The APPG says: “A growing number of organisations, parliamentarians from all parties and others have been questioning whether benefit levels are adequate to meet needs.” The APPG then stresses that all witnesses to its inquiry agreed that current benefit levels are too low and driving claimants into poverty. For example, as part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and The Trussell Trust’s joint evidence submission, the organisations stressed that the first and most significant driver of foodbank need is insufficient income from social security, particularly the low rate of UC’s standard allowance and the effect of UC deductions.  In terms of Disabled people, the APPG highlights the Resolution Foundation’s Costly Difference briefing which found that the current cost of living crisis has had a disproportionate impact on Disabled People such that:   

  • 1 in 3 adults in the lowest household income decile have a disability, compared to the fewer than 1 in 10 of adults in the highest household income decile.  
  • Disabled people are almost three times as likely to live in material deprivation in comparison to the rest of the population (34 % vs 13%)  
  • 41% of Disabled people said they couldn’t afford to keep their homes warm, compared to 23% of the non-disabled population.  

As a result of the evidence submitted to it, the APPG have found that increasing benefit levels is the most effective way to reduce poverty, as it is better targeted at those on the lowest incomes compared to, for example, an increase in the minimum wage. In concluding remarks, the APPG says that: “Our social security system should exist to support households and provide genuine financial security, yet in its current state, the low rates of social security are pushing people into poverty and driving destitution.  … “Without any meaningful link between benefit rates and claimants’ needs, social security has been left to wither under the political will of recent governments.  “It is clear that rates of benefits must be linked to something other than an arbitrary historical level and instead should reflect needs.” The APPG report ends by making a number of recommendations for Government action, including that the Government should: 

  • Increase the overall level of benefits 
  • Establish an independent panel to decide benefit levels  
  • Consider the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s call for a benefits Essentials Guarantee 
  • Improve the benefit uprating process 
  • Reform the benefit deduction policy  
  • Scrap the two-child limit and the benefit cap  
  • Uprate Local Housing Allowance annually in line with rising rents  

“Enough to be able to live, not just survive” A report by the APPG on Poverty following its inquiry into the (in)adequacy of social security is available from appgpoverty.org.uk See also our recent related news story Cost of living situation for UC households ‘almost universally dire’ says Joseph Rowntree Federation.