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Autumn Statement responses

Date:3 DEC 2014
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Every year, the chancellor of the exchequer provides an Autumn Statement to parliament, focusing on economic growth and government finances, which serves to update parliament on the government's plans for the economy.

Below is a round-up of responses to this year's Autumn Statement.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Responding to the Autumn Statement, chief executive of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), Julia Unwin, said:

'George Osborne has high hopes for 2020, but we know for the worst off families the forecasts are heading in the wrong direction, with one in four expected to be living in poverty by then. There was little in this Statement to tackle the causes of poverty and it was a missed opportunity to support low income families. Without action, we risk an economic recovery built on rising poverty and insecurity.

Raising the personal tax allowance is an expensive way of helping the working poor – most of the additional money will actually go to better off families, while poorer families only keep a third of the tax cut. Raising the Work Allowance would have been a much more effective way of making work pay for those in poverty. Stamp Duty is a long overdue reform, but the measure stokes demand and does little to boost supply, which is badly needed to end the housing crisis and bring down the high cost of housing.'
JRF’s recent state of the nation report written by the New Policy Institute sets out how the economic recovery is affecting people and places in poverty. The report shows there has been a vast increase in insecure work – zero hours contracts, part time work and low-paid self-employment, which means that getting a job does not necessarily mean getting out of poverty:
  • Two thirds of people who moved from unemployment into work in the last year are paid below the Living Wage
  • The long term prospects for people in low paid work are not good either: only a fifth of low paid employees have left low paid work completely 10 years later
  • The average self-employed person earns 13% less than they did five years ago
  • There are around 1.4m contracts not guaranteeing a minimum number of hours, and over half are in the lower-paying food, accommodation, retail and admin sectors
The extra support for childcare costs for low income families will be paid for by making savings elsewhere within the Universal Credit budget, by freezing the Work Allowance.

JRF has argued the help should not be funded at the expense of other poorer families, and the balance of funding between poorer and better off families looked at again.
Read analysis on the expected impact of the welfare cap by JRF’s head of poverty research, Chris Goulden.


Responding to the Autumn Statement, Gingerbread Chief executive Fiona Weir, said:

'There was little to cheer single parent families in today’s Autumn Statement. The government is pressing ahead with a freeze to tax credits and other vital benefits, which will see many families’ incomes fall even further against the rising costs of the essentials, such as food, rent and heating.

The UK’s 2 million single parent families have lost more from tax and benefit changes than any other household type on average, and the strain is showing. Our research has found seven out of ten single parents say that they are struggling to pay the bills each month, that’s compared with two out of ten people on average. Working poverty among single parent families’ is on the rise and child poverty is predicted to grow.

Bringing forward much need support with childcare costs and ensuring that working age benefits keep pace with the real costs people face would have gone some way towards helping families facing a difficult year ahead.'

Child Poverty Action Group

Responding to the Autumn Statement, Alison Garnham Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:
'It’s striking that the only giveaway for children was for families who can afford to fly them abroad on holiday. For millions more children, today’s Autumn Statement is about staying the course for poverty rather than prosperity.

The Chancellor once again failed to mention child poverty - it’s now two years since an Autumn Statement or a Budget mentioned child poverty, despite the Government’s binding legal obligation to reduce it and IFS projections warning that the Government is on course to rapidly increase, not reduce, child poverty.

By cutting Universal Credit once again, the Chancellor is in very real danger of torpedoing Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship policy. Freezing the work allowance will harm work incentives and hit low paid families hard. Two thirds of poor children live in working families; we should be redistributing help towards them, not away from them.'
A summary of the Autumn Statement 2014 is available here.

The Autumn Statement 2014 is available to download in full here.
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