The Welfare Reform and Work Bill currently proceeding through Parliament will make substantive changes to support for low-paid working people, with important consequences for poverty in the UK. The bill introduces a new overall benefit cap, freezes certain in-work benefits and repeals the current measures of child poverty. At the same time, it puts duties on the government to report on moves towards full employment and the creation of three million apprenticeships.
Oxfam’s published evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee highlights major concerns with this approach, emphasizing that work and training need to be assessed for their quality in order to provide a route out of poverty. Furthermore, introducing a lower benefit cap and freezing other support will increase pressure on vulnerable people who are out of work for a variety of complex and interrelated reasons.
Finally, removing an income measure of child poverty undermines attempts to measure and tackle the problem, while the new welfare changes being made at the same time are likely to increase poverty and inequality across Britain.
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