politics

Tory DWP ministers do no research on how cost of living crisis hits kids' hunger


An MP asked a new welfare minister for any research on the effect of the £20 Universal Credit cut and spiralling food and energy bills – and got the answer: ‘We have not undertaken research of this kind’

Child hunger is a worry (file photo)
Child hunger is a worry (file photo)

Tory welfare ministers have not done a single piece of research on how rising energy bills, food costs and the £20 Universal Credit cut will hit hungry kids.

Lib Dem MP Munira Wilson hit out at the admission after millions were left out of a rise in benefits in the Budget – despite fears inflation could hit 5% next year.

The Chancellor announced a taper rate boost for 1.9million benefit claimants who work – weeks after cutting UC by £20 a week.

But the IFS think tank warned millions of claimants who don’t or can’t work will not see an extra penny.

They include 1.3million Brits who are not required to work at all due to sickness, disability and caring responsibilities.

The IFS said UC looks set to rise by around 3% next April – but that could be wiped out by 5% inflation at the same time.

Ahead of the Budget, Ms Wilson asked “what research and preparation” the Department for Work and Pensions had done “on the impact of (i) rising energy prices, (ii) rising fuel bills, (iii) potential food shortages and (iv) the removal of the £20 uplift to universal credit on families’ ability to fund their childrens’ meals while at school”.








Rishi Sunak announced help in the Budget – for some
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Image:

via REUTERS)



But DWP minister David Rutley replied: “We have not undertaken research of this kind.”

He added the £20 uplift was temporary and the government had invested in a plan for jobs, higher Healthy Start food vouchers, a £421 million Household Support Fund and the Covid vaccine rollout.

Ms Wilson said: “For the government to not commit any research on the impacts of their own damaging policies is complacent at best and heartless at worst.

“The Tories think they can impose dreadful policies and get away with it, they’re taking the good faith of people across the country for granted.

“The budget does nothing to help those households petrified by spiralling energy prices, and the Chancellor’s announcement on Universal Credit is giving just a third of what he snatched away.

“Millions of families will not be helped at all but this government.




“While the public face multiple crises at their doorsteps this winter, the government have plugged their ears and not bothered to do their homework.”

DWP officials pointed out the department was not formally responsible for issues like energy prices and food supply.

Mr Rutley wrote: “We are also investing up to £221m in the Holiday Activities and Food programme, which has been expanded to every Local Authority across England.

“Participating children are benefitting from a range of support, including healthy and nutritious meals as well as fun and engaging activities covering the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays in 2021.”


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