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Poorer families would suffer under a no deal scenario, say charities

Fri 15 Feb 2019
By Cara Bentley

A letter signed by the CEOs and Directors of ten major poverty charities have said low income families will be the worst affected by Brexit, especially if there is no deal.

The Trussel Trust, Shelter and Action for Children, among others, wrote:

"As organisations who speak with and support low-income families up-and-down the country every day, we know that many people are trapped in impossible situations; struggling to pay their rent or put food on the table for their children. As a country that believes in protecting each other from harm, this is not an acceptable situation.

"There is widespread agreement that some level of economic and social disruption will follow Brexit, at least in the short term, and worst of all under a ‘no deal’ scenario. Low-income families will be worst affected, having already endured years of benefit cuts and freezes. The public services they rely upon are also under pressure due to the consequences of rising poverty. We need a new deal for low-income families to cushion the blow and this has prompted us to write to you.

They say the 'already shamefully high' rates of poverty in the UK could worsen unless the government steps in.

The group call for three things: an end to the benefits freeze that was introduced in April 2016, reduce the five week wait at the start of claiming unviersal credit to two weeks and for the government to provide a 'stimulus package' of support for jobs which could be affected by Brexit -- particularly in the area of trade in regions of deprivation.

One of the key signatories on the letter is Campbell Robb, Chief Executive, of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who argue that if benefits do not change, even with a smooth exit from the EU, it would result in: "10.7 million people, including children, in poverty missing out on £220 per year to help cover the increased cost of living, and 200,000 more people being swept into poverty."

They add: "In the event of no deal, and potentially higher price rises, the impact could be more severe."

The charities say: "We do not take a view on the merits of Brexit or otherwise. But we are clear we must protect people, including families with children, on low incomes from any short-term economic shocks".

Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "Our changes to Universal Credit mean more people get more support, helping them into work and off benefits.

"We made these - extending advances, cutting waiting times - because there were issues with the initial roll-out of UC. I‘ve been clear about this since I took over at DWP."

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