An imperfect storm

8 October 2021


The poorest and most socially and economically disadvantaged people in our country are facing an incredible imperfect storm.

The Government has imposed a £20 per week cut to Universal Credit.

The cut to Universal Credit – and it is a cut so let’s not talk about removing a temporary uplift - will

  • put an additional half a million people into poverty, including 200,000 children.
  • cut the main rate of out-of-work support down to its lowest level in real terms since around 1990 and its lowest ever level as a proportion of average earnings
  • be the biggest single cut in social security since the early 1930s
  • discriminatorily hit communities and places already the most disadvantaged
  • reduce spending in local economies

Government ministers have demonstrated their indifference to this impact. They have all too often demonstrated their ignorance of the social security system and their lack of both an understanding of the lives of those in receipt of Universal Credit and a lack of empathy with their fellow citizens. This is appalling.

Yet cuts to Universal Credit are accompanied by a raft of other financial and social pressures.

Gas and other energy prices are rising.

Food costs and housing costs are also increasing with inflation set to rise over the coming months.

National Insurance is set to rise in April 2022.

Council tax is set to rise by more than inflation next year.

National Insurance and Council Tax are regressive taxes.

The consequences of austerity and the underfunding of public services have a more adverse impact on the poorest than on the wealthy.

Covid-19 has hit the poorest communities the hardest. It has amplified and shone a spotlight on inequality and unfairness.

The government may speak about “levelling” up whilst seemingly set on a programme of “levelling down”. There was little mention of these important issues and certainly no signs of policy change at the recent Conservative Party conference.

“Levelling up” if it is going to live up to its name must include addressing social and economic inequalities, tackling poverty (not increasing it), investing in education, training, childcare, public health, the NHS, social infrastructure not simply in some economic infrastructure and so much more.

TAP and our colleagues at Compassion in Politics are committed to campaigning for social justice and fairness. We are actively engaged in campaigns to address the causes of inequality and social injustice.

Our founder the Rev Paul Nicolson was resolute in challenging the causes of inequality and poverty; and he never held back from challenging those in power who could act to create a fairer and more socially just society.

Over the next few months and maybe for some longer time we are going to have to draw on Paul’s inspiration to stand up for justice.

TAP’s voice will be there. We are not alone in wanting change. TAP will work with others to maximise our voice and our impact. Please add your voice. We must be heard. There must be change and there must be social justice.

We have to weather the imperfect storm but we have to do better than this if we are really going to “build back better’ and “build back fairer”.