UK to see “crisis of living standards” without overhaul of social security, new report finds

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The UK is set to see a sharp rise in child poverty, worsening circumstances for low-income families and a crisis in homelessness unless there is significant change to the Tories’ social security plans, the Fabian Society has found.

The think tank calls for “root and branch” reform of Britain’s social security system, rather than tinkering with individual policies, to avoid it getting even worse throughout the 2020s

For Us All, published today, shows there will be almost no affordable housing for low income private tenants in most areas as a result of the Government’s housing benefit policies. The report also concludes the number of children living in poverty would return to the levels before Labour launched an assault on the issue in Government by 2030.

It goes to on show low income families are set to receive significantly less than the state than middle income families by 2020 due to tax-free allowances being significantly higher than the amount a family could receive on benefits. There will be a cliff edge at pensioner age, where the government supports couples three times more than those under pensionable age but without work.

The formation of a new cabinet gives an opportunity to change the direction of social security policy, according to the Society, who recommend a system resembling our successful pensions schemes.

Andrew Harrop, General Secretary of the Fabian Society, has called on politicians to consider the long-term health of the UK’s social security system.

“For six years of the Cameron government, ‘austerity’ dominated all discussion of benefit policies.

“But social security for non-pensioners will be worse in 2020 than it was in 2010 and will carry on getting worse in the decade that follows, unless action is taken.

“It is time to turn a page and start to consider the long-term future of social security, as part of a strategic agenda for raising British living standards.

“Politicians need to find the confidence to argue that generous, well-designed benefits for non-pensioners are essential for a fairer, more prosperous future. Our political leaders can grasp the nettle and create a social security system for the next decade, designed for us all.”

For Us All calls for  Universal, Contributory, privately provided and means-tested elements to the security system, much of which should be increased to match the costs of living.

This would include increases to universal credit to match higher costs of living, reductions in student loan repayments according to a person’s contributions through national insurance and the creation of a basic income as a level from which other support is built up.

The report follows analysis from John Healey which shows that if homelessness from the Conservatives continues at the current rate, 80,000 families a year will become homeless by 2020 as a result of rising housing costs and cuts to housing benefits.

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