As the Government launches the consultation on its new Child Poverty Strategy, Citizens Advice criticises four years of talks about a new measure instead of action to help struggling families.
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said:
"A four year process which produces nothing concrete is unacceptable. The people living on a knife-edge who come to Citizens Advice Bureaux for help are not interested in how Whitehall defines their circumstances, they are too busy working out how they will put food on the table. The struggle of millions of people to make ends meet should have spurred ministers into urgent action, not slowed their response to a snail’s pace.
"We need long term solutions to the problems which are ramping up household bills. Social housing arrears problems reported to Citizens Advice are up thirteen per cent in one year and energy bills have increased seven times faster than earnings since 2010. The UK’s stock of affordable housing is woefully inadequate and our energy market needs radical reform to increase transparency and reduce families’ costs.
“Ministers must ensure that their welfare reforms genuinely help people get on in life. Too often, help for jobseekers is punitive rather than supportive and Universal Credit could see some low income families find it harder to make every hour of work pay.
“Moving beyond a simple income-based measure of poverty is sensible, but the people whose life chances depend on strong support cannot afford more indecision. All that matters here is that people in dire need get help. It's good that ministers are taking account of all the reasons that families might struggle to make ends meet, but for four years of backroom discussion to result in so little progress is totally unacceptable."