We need benefits we can live on

Tanis Belsham-Wray, Leeds Socialist Party

The cost of living is rising exponentially. From gas and electric price rises to food costs and rent, many households are already struggling.  Just gas and electric bills alone will see an average increase of £58 a month.

The retail price index is 7.5%. Yet Universal Credit (UC) is set to increase by just 3.1% in April.

For a single person over 25,  the rise will be only £10.07 a month; for a couple, £15.81. This doesn’t even come close to the extra for just fuel bills!

Last year the Trussle Trust handed out 2.5 million food parcels, a 33% increase from the previous year. 980,000 of these parcels were for children.

One benefit that hasn’t gone up is childcare. At present, parents can claim up to £646.35 a month towards childcare costs. This rate hasn’t increased since 2016.

But since February 2020, childcare costs have risen by 48%. These costs also have to paid up front, which has meant many parents, especially women, have had to cut their hours or stop working altogether as they simply can’t afford to work.

We say:

  • No rise in the energy price cap. Nationalise energy and other utilities under democratic workers’ control and management to reduce energy bills
  • Scrap the planned rise in National Insurance – tax the rich
  • Reintroduce the £20 a-week uplift to Universal Credit. End the five-week wait .
  • A £15 an-hour minimum wage, living benefits and pensions that increase with inflation
  • End the benefit cap, including the cap on childcare, as a step towards affordable childcare for all
  • Introduce rent controls. Fair rent to be decided by elected bodies of tenants, housing workers and trade union representatives
  • No council tax rises. Councils to set needs-based no-cuts budgets and demand funding from government
  • For a socialist plan of production to guarantee a living income, decent housing and the necessities of life for all