Ending Benefit Freeze ‘Not Enough To Help Families Afford Heating’
Many households in the UK will struggle to pay their heating bills, even after the end of the benefits freeze has come into effect.
Earlier this week, MPs voted to increase Universal Credit, Child Benefit, non-disability Tax Credits and Jobseeker’s Allowance in line with inflation from April 6th.
Most benefits are currently at 2015/16 levels, despite the fact they would have increased by 6.5 per cent in nominal terms by now if they had not been frozen.
While this is good news for those who claim benefits, Citizens Advice states it is not enough to help households who struggle to pay for their heating and food bills.
It found that nearly four in ten families that seek advice about debt and receive these benefits would still not be able to cover their expenses by 2024. This is a rise of 25 per cent since the freeze was introduced.
Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Increasing numbers of people simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet. While a step in the right direction, increasing benefits by inflation will not go far enough to help solve this problem.”
The organisation wants the government to increase income-related benefits by the Consumer Prices Index plus two per cent for four years, as well as recalculate the Local Housing Allowance.
This would give many people some financial respite to enable them to pay their fuel bills.
Another way to keep heating costs down is to call boiler repair services at the first sign of a problem, as an effective and well-maintained central heating system will make your house more energy-efficient and cheaper to run.