Adequate standard of living / poverty – Government action
UK Government actions
- In March 2020, the UK Government announced several temporary measures to address the coronavirus pandemic. These included:
- a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allowing employers to claim a grant from HMRC to cover 80% of the wages of ‘furloughed workers’ (up to £2,500 per month)
- a Self-employment Income Support Scheme to provide financial support to self-employed people
- an increase in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit rates
- an increase in Local Housing Allowance (LHA rates) for housing benefit
- the creation of a £500 million ‘hardship fund’ in England to provide council tax relief to working age taxpayers in receipt of council tax support
- the provision of food aid for households in England considered to be at greatest clinical risk from COVID-19
- the provision of £15 weekly supermarket vouchers for children in England eligible for free school meals and additional funding to provide a six-weekly voucher over the summer holidays
- In April 2018, the Homelessness Reduction Act (2017) introduced new duties to prevent and relieve homelessness across England.
- In April 2016, the UK Government introduced the National Living Wage for workers across the UK over the age of 25, this gave the lowest paid a salary rise of approximately £600 a year.
- The National Living Wage has increased every year since 2016 and the latest rate (April 2020) was £8.72 per hour.
- In March 2016, the Welfare Reform and Work Act (2016) made the following changes to the social security system:
- the benefit cap was reduced by 23% for families and 26% for single claimants (12% and 15% respectively in London)
- the level of certain social security benefits and tax credits was frozen between 2016 and 2020
- the entitlement to the child element of Child Tax Credits or Universal Credit was limited to a maximum of two children per household
- binding targets to reduce child poverty in England by 2020 were removed
Read our assessment of the UK Government’s progress on adequate standard of living / poverty.
Welsh Government actions
Efforts to reduce poverty relate to both reserved and devolved matters. Whilst, social security, many taxes, and employment law are reserved to the UK Government, the Welsh Government has competence over poverty-related areas including housing, education, health, aspects of economic development, as well as having some limited tax-raising and borrowing powers.
- The Welsh Government has committed to introduce the socio-economic duty in Wales from March 2021.
- In May 2020, the Welsh Government increased its Discretionary Assistance Fund, which supports people in Wales facing financial hardship, by £11 million.
- In spring 2020, the Welsh Government extended free school meal provision to cover the school Easter and summer holidays, and encouraged local authorities to extend the provision to children from families with no recourse to public funds during the pandemic.
- In August 2020, the Welsh Government confirmed up to £50 million funding to rehouse everyone who has been provided with emergency shelter during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Welsh Government’s national strategy, Prosperity for All, first published in 2017, focuses on the promotion of economic prosperity for all, helping to tackle the root causes of poverty in Wales.
- In August 2020, the Welsh Government published a feasibility study of accommodation provision for those with no recourse to public funds.
- In July 2020, the Welsh Government announced an additional £1.4 million to boost household income and manage problem debt.
Read our assessment of the Welsh Government’s progress on adequate standard of living / poverty.