April 26, 2023

Guarantee our Essentials

Over 90 organisations have asked politicians what they intend to do to help the millions of households still going without essentials.

In a letter to all UK political party leaders, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), the Trussell Trust and other NGOs, charities and professional bodies including Resolve Poverty say that, despite living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, nine in ten low-income households on Universal Credit are currently going without essentials. The letter comes as the Trussell Trust is due to reveal how many emergency food parcels were distributed by food banks in its network over the past year.

The cost-of-living crisis, which has seen the prices of everyday items like food and clothing soar since 2021, has made this problem worse. But the UK’s inadequate social security system hasn’t provided enough help for years. 2.4 million people experienced destitution at some point in 2019, up 54% since 2017.

Research by JRF and the Trussell Trust published earlier this year showed how the shortfall between the basic rate of Universal Credit and the cost of essentials, such as food, bills and vital household items, is a key driver behind increasing levels of hardship. The standard allowance of Universal Credit is only £85 a week for a single adult. That’s at least £35 a week below a conservative estimate of what’s needed to afford these essentials. Often people receive even less as they face deductions from their support which are automatically taken at unaffordable rates.

It’s why so many organisations from those helping single parents of young children to others helping people with mental health problems or long-term disabilities want the governments of the UK to back the Essentials Guarantee. This means ensuring that the basic rate of Universal Credit at least covers the cost of life’s essentials, with support never being pulled below that level. For more information, read our report, Guarantee Our Essentials, here.

Over two thirds of people in poverty (69%) would gain from the Essentials Guarantee which would benefit everyone in receipt of Universal Credit. It would also lift around 1.8 million people out of poverty altogether, including 600,000 children. Read more here.