Standing together, Vincentian charities across the UK are calling on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to provide an adequate social security system, one that reflects the true cost of living and prevents the poorest in society from being pushed deeper into poverty this winter.
Across our many services we reach out to all those in need, including people facing homelessness, older people, refugees, vulnerable children, carers, people living with disability, and those experiencing in-work poverty. Rising costs are disproportionately affecting these groups and collectively we are seeing a spike in the number of people turning to our services in order to make ends meet.
Vincentian charities and groups have seen a worrying increase in the number of people seeking support and advice. The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) alone has supported over 55,000 people in the past year, and it reports worrying trends such as people on higher income accessing our foodbanks, and a 66% increase in the number of requests for help from 2020.
Elizabeth Palmer, CEO of the SVP, says: "Our community support projects and members are busier than ever before, and the number of people seeking our help across the country is increasing every day. The profile of the people seeking our help is also changing and is beginning to include those who were previously managing to cope without our help."
Mark Choonara, CEO of Daughters of Charity Services, says: "We are in a recession. As we seek to restore our economic growth, we must ensure that equality and fairness are rooted at the heart of our efforts, revitalising our society along with our economy."
As such, today's announcement by the Chancellor is deeply concerning. We strongly welcome the announcement of the uprating of benefits in line with inflation, the raising of the benefit cap by 10.1% and the announcement of a new Windfall tax, however we also urge the government to:
- Provide a clear vision to improve the adequacy of social security to support people both in and out of work. The cost of living crisis will continue to be felt by people and families for the long-term and plans should be put in place to shield them from further financial harm. The OBR is projecting that this budget will accompany a decline in real household disposable income by 7.1% since 2021-22. We encourage the government to go further in its targeted support for the most vulnerable to offset this hardship.
- Ensure protections for recipients of Universal Credit for whom full-time employment is not a workable option, such as those with a range of caring responsibilities, who face increased threats of penalisation or withdrawal of payments.
- Provide details of a sustainable plan to address the systemic underfunding of local government
- Show a commitment to pursuing the Levelling Up agenda by providing details of upcoming targeted financial support for those areas most in need.
The cost-of-living crisis continues to intensify, and with inflation set to remain high for the foreseeable future, it is the government's moral responsibility to ensure there is targeted financial support and a strong safety net in place for vulnerable people this winter and beyond in order to ensure they do not bear the brunt of the financial crisis.
Catholic social teaching upholds the right for everyone to have dignity. We as Vincentian charities call on the government to provide adequate social protection that takes into consideration the basic necessities of life.
St Vincent de Paul Society England and Wales
Daughters of Charity Services
Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul
Society of St. Vincent de Paul Scotland
International Association of Charities (AIC)
Congregation of the Mission
Company of Mission Priests
Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Evron
Anglican Sisters of Charity