Thursday, June 04, 2020

Poverty Rise is Looming

Soaring unemployment is expected to push more than a million more Britons into poverty by Christmas and is already driving up homelessness, charities are warning. Around 200,000 children are among those facing a new life below the pre-coronavirus poverty line.

According to analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank which examined a Bank of England economic scenario that predicts that as a result of the lockdown measures unemployment could rise by 2 million to 3.3 million people – almost 10% of the workforce – by the end of 2020.
IPPR found working families paying relatively high rents as a proportion of their income will be hit hardest by having to rely on universal credit. It is calling for ministers to increase child benefit by £5 a week, remove the two-child limit on universal credit and lift the benefit cap to prevent the rise in child poverty. 
“Hundreds of thousands of families and their children who may have been ‘just about managing’ before Covid now face being plunged into poverty,” said Claire McNeil, associate director of IPPR.

Charities have also reported a rise in homelessness since the pandemic, driven mostly by workers being laid off as businesses, particularly in low-wage sectors such as retail and hospitality, were closed for lockdown in late March.  Homelessness charity Crisis surveyed 150 frontline organisations and found the mounting pressure of being without a safe home had also taken its toll with significant rises in people seeking help for basic needs such as food, finances and feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “At this very minute tens of thousands of people across Great Britain are struggling against a rising tide of job insecurity and high rents, all of which threaten to push them into homelessness. We’re also seeing people who are still trapped on our streets because they aren’t eligible for help. This isn’t right especially when, given the progress we’ve made so far, we know that ending homelessness is within our grasp.”

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