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    Today's budget is one that spells further hardship and difficulty for some of the poorest in our society.
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Summer budget 2015: Cymorth Cymru response

Yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne delivered his summer budget – the first from a majority Conservative government since 1996.

Despite the fact that it was pitched as a 'One nation budget', the reality is that, once again, it is those at the edges of the society, those who are already struggling financially, who are set to be hit hardest.

The main area of concern for Cymorth and its members are the announcements around benefit cuts, which will add up to £35bn over the next five years.

In particular, we were extremely disappointed at the announcement of an estimated £4.5bn cut to tax credits. Additionally, from April 2017, child tax credits will be limited to two children for any new claimants. This will also apply to existing claimants who have more children after 2017. For the thousands of people in unsecure, low paid jobs, tax credits are a life line and these significant cuts will are likely to lead to a huge rise in in-work and child poverty.

The announcement that 18-21 year olds will no longer be automatically entitled to housing benefit is also deeply worrying. Many of our members work with young people who for a multitude of reasons cannot live in the family home and so many are reliant on housing benefit to keep them off the streets. The Chancellor did say that there would be exceptions for 'vulnerable' young people, but did not specify how this would be defined.

Further cuts to welfare came in the form in a reduction in the benefits cap –from £26k down to £20k (£23k in London). Far from saving the government money, these cuts will simply push already vulnerable people further into poverty. Combined with the increasing cost of private rents and a shortage of affordable homes, this policy is extremely likely to see an increase in homelessness and could end up costing the government more than it saves. And there is little respite in the near future, with working age benefits frozen for four years.

There was some good news in the budget – namely the introduction of a compulsory £9 living wage by 2020 – but on closer inspection, even this may not be as positive as it first sounds. While the introduction of a living wage is to be cautiously welcomed, it will not completely compensate for the cuts to tax credits. Furthermore, we would question whether it is actually a 'living wage' as we know it – whereas the Living Wage Foundation's calculation is pegged to prices and intended to cover the cost of living, the Chancellor's is pegged to median earnings. So, perhaps a higher minimum wage rather than a true living wage.

Ultimately, today's budget is one that spells further hardship and difficulty for some of the poorest in our society. We know that Wales has been one of the places most disproportionately affected by welfare reform, and some of the most vulnerable people in Wales have already been hit very hard. We have serious concerns about what these deeper and harder cuts will mean to the people our members support in Wales.

The Supporting People Programme plays, and will continue to play, a key role in mitigating the impact of welfare reform and reducing and preventing homelessness. Now, more than ever, we would urge the Welsh Government to recognise the benefits of Supporting People and do all they can to ensure this essential safety net continues to be protected.

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© Cymorth Cymru 2019
Company Registration No: 5093332
Charity No: 1116774