Our Chairman, Rev Paul Nicolson, had the following letter published in The Times this morning.
Sir, Maria Miller (letter, Feb 7) claims that the Universal Credit will lift 350,000 children and 550,000 adults out of poverty — but she comes to this conclusion by using the income threshold before housing costs have been deducted (BHC), below which people are deemed to be in poverty. However, poverty is at its harshest when measured after housing costs have been deducted (AHC). Using the latter measure the Universal Credit cap will add to the misery already created by the housing benefit caps. The higher the rent which is capped, the worse the misery. The level of a single adult’s Job Seekers Allowance is now £67.50 a week and will continue at that level as the Standard Allowance in the Universal Credit in 2013. The two caps create rent arrears which have to be paid out of that £67.50, if the children’s or disabled people’s additional benefits are not to be reduced by the debt. It is already half the governmental poverty threshold and is expected by the Centre for Research in Social Policy to be reduced by £1 a week every year as a result of the coalition moving the annual uprating from the retail prices index to the consumer prices index. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that a healthy diet costs £47.31 a week. The Royal College of Psychiatrists reports that poverty and debt are trigger factors for, and part of, the experience of those with poor mental health. It is an impossible struggle to pay bills as prices rise and AHC welfare incomes fall.