OPINION

Winter is coming but benefits aren’t frozen – they’ve been cut

Posted On 13 Nov 2021 at 12:18 pm

The economic fallout of the pandemic, Brexit and the fuel crisis is having a terrible impact across society, but particularly on poorer families and child poverty.

Nationally, 2.5 million children are estimated to live in households experiencing food insecurity. This carries a huge human cost which children are likely to bear for the rest of their lives, affecting their relationships, attainment and health.

Locally, that there was a shocking 33 per cent increase of 1,628 children entitled to free school meals between May 2019 and May 2021.

This spike in child poverty comes off the back of years of Tory government cuts.

In the past decade of Conservative rule, cases of malnutrition in the UK have almost doubled to over 10,000, while cases of the Victorian disease scurvy have also doubled.

There are now more food banks in the UK than there are branches of McDonald’s.

The recent bad news is that the Chancellor is pressing on with cutting universal credit. That’s a huge bite out of family budgets – £20 a week, £87 a month and £1,040 a year.

This is compounded by Ofgem raising the energy price cap to £1,277, which represents a 12.2 per cent jump and the largest ever increase to fuel bills.

In addition, the government’s national insurance rise will mean people in low-paid jobs bearing the brunt, at a time when in-work poverty is at a record high.

Consequently, I of course welcomed the Household Support Fund at the recent Recovery Committee meeting, which is in effect another one-off emergency sticking plaster for the winter that the council is charged with distributing.

I was, however, disappointed that the Green administration did not back Labour’s proposals to increase the value of supermarket food vouchers for children entitled to free school meals, from £15 each to £20 each per week.

We all know the value of a balanced diet and its vital to enable families to be able to afford fresh protein and fruit and vegetables. I argued it would be very difficult to nutritiously feed a family with two hungry 11 and 14-year-olds on £30 a week.

In what is likely to be one of the toughest winters in living memory, I would have hoped the administration would have backed our plans to more effectively tackle child poverty.

Councillor John Allcock is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. David Jones Reply

    Perhaps they should get a job. There are high numbers of vacancies in Brighton. If they don’t want to there are many other cheaper places to live if you wish to have families and expect taxpayers to support you.

    • Some Guy Reply

      “And all these homeless people, why do they not buy houses? That would solve the problem at a stroke!”

  2. Phoebe Barrera Reply

    Wasn’t their a recent story about city councillors wasting their time on national, rather than local, issues and playing party political games?

    Step forward John Allcock…

    Perhaps let our MPs deal with these issues.

Leave a Reply

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.