Two thirds of the public believe that benefits should go up in line with inflation including half (49%) of 2019 Conservative voters, according to a new poll for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
Just one in five (19%) instead believe there should be a rise below inflation, as has been proposed by the government, with only 7% believing there shouldn’t be a rise at all.
The suggested increase of 5.4%, in line with earnings, would amount to the biggest permanent real-terms cut to the basic rate of benefits ever made in a single year, according to JRF analysis. These benefits are those received by people who are too sick and disabled to work, those looking for work and those working but on low earnings, as well as those receiving child benefit.
At the same time, JRF’s latest analysis of the impact of the proposed real-terms cut shows that the average working age couple with two children receiving benefits will lose over £300 per year from their incomes after housing costs as of next April – at a time when we know many are already struggling to afford the essentials.
Pressing ahead in the face of public opposition would be morally indefensible
Rebecca McDonald, Chief Economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “The majority of the public have taken a clear view already, and firmly oppose government suggestions that they are considering the biggest permanent real-terms cut to the basic rate of benefits ever made in a single year. This is all the more decisive when you consider that the issue has only been in the public eye since the government first floated the idea for the real-terms cut less than a fortnight ago.
“The majority in favour of uprating in line with inflation, as promised by then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier in the year, runs across all age groups, income groups and regions. The Prime Minister must surely realise that her refusal to confirm the uplift is completely out of step with public opinion and the times in which we are living.
“Pressing ahead with this move in the face of public opposition would be morally indefensible and would target spending cuts at those on the lowest incomes, many of whom cannot afford the essentials as it is. It would also terrify millions who have already been enduring a cost of living emergency for months.”