Martin Lewis joins calls to reform Universal Credit as over one in five Britons living in poverty

Martin Lewis joins calls to reform Universal Credit as over one in five Britons living in poverty

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirming hike to Universal Credit payments in Autumn Budget last year

GB NEWS
Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell


Published: 23/01/2024

- 10:01

Financial journalist Martin Lewis is urging politicians to do more to tackle poverty, warning benefits such as Universal Credit are failing to improve peoples’ lives

Martin Lewis has joined calls to reform Universal Credit following new research showing more than one in five Britons are living in poverty.

Earlier today, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published analysis that 14.4 million people in total - made up of 8.1 million working-age adults, 4.2 million children and 2.1 million pensioners - live in poverty.


The latest data shows that the average person in poverty has an income 29 per cent below the poverty line, with the gap up from 23 per cent in the mid-1990s, the think tank claims.

Poverty has not moved since 2010, when the Conservative Party came into power, which has led to experts “calling for change” when it comes to Universal Credit.

Martin Lewis at event

Martin Lewis is calling for more to be done to tackle poverty

GETTY

Specifically, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is pushing for an “Essentials Guarantee” to be included as part of the benefit payment.

This would reportedly ensure that everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford essentials like food and household bills.

Furthermore, the think tank is urging future Governments to overhaul the social security framework to help everyone in society who are in need.

Ahead of this year’s General Election, the think tank urged politicians to make sure low income households are not “left unprotected”.

These calls for change have been supported by Martin Lewis who warned he was “out of tools” to address the crisis at hand himself.

The money saving expert explained: “Now we have hit the stark reality that 100,000s of people in the UK, even after they’ve had professional help from money charities, are still deficit budgeting – so their income is less than their minimum necessary expenditure.

“Definitions of poverty are tricky, especially when based on relative incomes, but that smells like a clear indication the problem is getting worse.

“And let’s be plain, once people are in the deepest mire, it’s not a Money Saving Expert you need, its policy makers and regulators to sit up take note and address these deep rooted problems – which is exactly what I hope they do with this Joseph Rowntree Foundation report highlighting the situation and calling for change.”

Outside of Universal Credit

Calls to reform Universal Credit are taking place

PA

Paul Kissack, the group chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, added: “It has been almost twenty years and six Prime Ministers since the last prolonged period of falling poverty in the UK.

“Instead, over the last two decades, we have seen poverty deepen, with more and more families falling further and further below the poverty line.

“Little wonder that the visceral signs of hardship and destitution are all around us – from rocketing use of foodbanks to growing numbers of homeless families

“This is social failure at scale. It is a story of both moral and fiscal irresponsibility – an affront to the dignity of those living in hardship, while driving up pressures on public services like the NHS.”

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