StepChange reaction to Chancellor’s cost of living support package

Commenting on the new measures announced today, StepChange Debt Charity Director of External Affairs Richard Lane said: “The additional £650 of support to households claiming benefits, delivered without bureaucracy, on top of the general support being made available to all households, will really help to reduce the impact of the eye-watering cost of energy. We particularly welcome the efficiency with which it will be delivered.

“It will remain important to ensure that the choice to try to support the widest number of households doesn’t potentially dilute the amount of support being made available to those in the greatest need. In our view, targeted support to provide as much help as possible to the households who simply can’t afford to make ends meet, even when they have pared their budget down to basics, is the best way  to reduce harm and enable households to keep the lights on and food on the table.”

Among new StepChange clients in April, 15% cited the cost of living as a reason for their debt. 29% were in arrears on their electricity bills and 24% on their gas bills – both two percentage points up on the average in 2021. Even with the measures announced, StepChange estimates the average advice client in receipt of Universal Credit with a responsibility to pay energy bills will have a monthly deficit budget of £33.