Leeds academic warns wrong approach to raising benefits will have 'dire consequences'

Raising benefits in line with earnings – not inflation – will make things worse for low-income households in the coming years.  

That’s the warning from academics from the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics (LSE). 

In an article for The Conversation, Dr Daniel Edmiston, from Leeds’ School of Sociology and Social Policy, and LSE Fellow Kate Summers, say there is public support for raising benefits in line with inflation. 

However since the 2010s, raises in benefits have instead been determined by what the state can afford, and government references to ‘fairness’ between unemployed benefit claimants on one hand, and working taxpayers on the other. 

The article argues this is a ‘false distinction’, as all social security claimants are also taxpayers, and a considerable minority are also in work.  

It says: “...the government’s guiding principle for whether or not to raise benefits continues to be “balancing the books” – and not maintaining living standards or reducing poverty.”  

If we want a fair and adequate social security system, we cannot continue cutting the resources of those who already have the least.  

Research in 2021 found many people on benefits did not receive enough to meet their needs, with people resorting to taking out loans, relying on support from charities, friends and family or simply going without.  

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has warned of further spending cuts to come – but in terms of the UK welfare net, there is ‘little left to cut’. 

Failing to to preserve and improve living standards for those claiming benefits will have ‘dire consequences’ for low-income households, the article concludes – read it in full on the The Conversation website

Picture via Unsplash/Aaron Doucett