Spring Statement ‘a missed opportunity’ given scale of the cost of living crisis
The Money Advice Trust has welcomed the increase in National Insurance threshold and increasing the Household Support Fund in today’s Spring Statement – but urged the Government to go further to match the scale of the financial challenge facing households and small businesses.
Research from the charity, which runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, found that one in seven (an estimated 7.9 million) UK adults is behind on at least one household bill and one in eight (an estimated 6.2 million) have already gone without heating, electricity or water in the last three months.
With inflation at a 30-year high and energy prices soaring the Money Advice Trust is warning that without more support millions more households will be unable to cope. One in three callers (32%) to the charity’s National Debtline service now have energy debt, up from up from 23% in 2021.
The charity is calling on the government to go further by:
- significantly uprating benefits to avoid a real term cut to people’s income,
- temporarily pausing deductions from benefits to repay government debt, such as benefit overpayments, and
- introducing dedicated help for people on the lowest incomes who cannot afford their energy bills as well as expanding access to and support available through the Warm Home Discount.
Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: “Today’s Spring Statement is a missed opportunity given the scale of the cost of living crisis facing households. While the increases in the National Insurance threshold and the Household Support Fund are welcome, they do not get nearly close enough to match the scale of the challenge.
“Millions are already feeling the strain, with one in seven already behind on one or more bill. With inflation now at its highest level for 30 years and energy prices soaring, day-by-day and week-by-week, more people will be pushed into financial difficulty as the pressure to meet essential costs builds.
“Debt charities will do everything we can to help people and small businesses that are struggling, but this alone will not be enough. The government needs to go much further by significantly uprating benefits and introducing dedicated help for people on the lowest incomes who cannot afford their monthly energy bills.
“Anyone worried about their finances should seek free, independent debt advice from a service like National Debtline.”