Cost of living: pensioners ‘take the bus all day’ to warm up, warns charity | United Kingdom | News

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The government is failing to protect the poorest people amid the cost of living crisis, with unemployment benefits at historic lows, a UK poverty charity has said. The 3.1% increase in benefits that will take effect on Monday does not match inflation, which is expected to reach 7.7% this month. This will result in the biggest drop in the value of the base unemployment benefit rate in 50 years, according to analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Associate director Helen Barnard told Sky News on Sunday: ‘For a decade we’ve had benefits cuts and freezes, and in fact for eight of the last 10 years benefits have lost value, so we’re already at a historically low level.

“While benefits increase tomorrow, they increase less as the cost of living increases.

“That means that in terms of values, the amount of bread and milk you can buy in stores, it’s the biggest drop in value since 1972.”

Many people were already in “desperate situations”, struggling to afford food, heating and basic hygiene items, she said, recounting how some pensioners take the bus all day to warming up, and longtime food bank volunteers are now relying on donations themselves.

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She called on the government to take urgent action to prevent the situation from deteriorating further and criticized Rishi Sunak for his failure to support the poorest people in society.

“If you look at the spring statement, the chancellor has spent around £18billion,” she said.

“Of that money, about two-thirds went to people in the richer half of the country.

“So he actually had the money, the problem is the government is not prioritizing using the money they have to protect the poorest people who face the greatest hardship.”

“One of the problems is that too many jobs are not only poorly paid, but precarious.

“And so these are the people who are really vulnerable in this situation when they are working, who are also struggling to afford basic necessities and who have to rely on charities for toothpaste and toilet rolls.

“It’s humiliating for a lot of people.”

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