Calls to protect most vulnerable come from charities ahead of Rishi Sunak announcing Budget

Charities have called on the government to ensure the most vulnerable in society are protected ahead of tomorrow’s Budget by extending emergency measures put in place at the start of the pandemic.

Charities have called on Rishi Sunak (pictured) to protect the most vulnerable ahead of his Budget on Wednesday

It is expected that Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, will signal in his Budget whether the temporary benefit increase for those receiving Universal Credit will continue.

Organisations have said that ending the £20 a week uplift, announced in response to the pandemic last March, could potentially plunge hundreds of thousands of families into poverty.

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There has been an 87 per cent increase in people claiming the benefit in Yorkshire and the Humber since the beginning of the pandemic.

New data from The Fabians Society shows some 79,000 households in Yorkshire receive Universal Credit including some 40,000 households with children.

Katie Schmuecker, deputy director for policy and partnerships at the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “The uplift has been a lifeline for millions of people - ending it now, or doing a short extension of only six months, will leave millions of people exposed just as the economic storm is expected to reach its height.

“This week the Chancellor should set a course away from the pre-pandemic version of normal, which saw 1.3 million people in Yorkshire and the Humber pushed into poverty by insecure jobs, crippling housing costs and an inadequate social security system.”

There are concerns too about the impact on the jobs market for young people, many of whom rely on the hospitality industry to provide employment. Unemployment among 16-24 year olds is around 14.5 per cent according to the ONS.

Kathleen Henehan, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Young people have at the heart of the UK’s pandemic-induced economic crisis, and must therefore be at the heart of the Chancellor’s Budget plan to lead Britain out of the crisis.

“Jobs should lie at the heart of any economic recovery plan. This should encourage targeted wage subsidies to encourage firms to take on new works.”

For older people, more investment is to meet a growing need for funded social care, according to charity Age UK.

Data analysed by the charity shows 10% of older people aged 60 and over say that they now find it harder to look after themselves since the start of the first lockdown, equivalent to 1.6 million older people overall.

And 40% of carers aged 60 and over say they are providing more care since the start of the pandemic, equivalent to more than 900,000 older carers overall.

Age UK is now calling on the Chancellor to extend its £120m emergency social care funding pot for councils, which was introduced in January.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: “The pandemic has intensified many older people’s need for care but after the battering it has received social care itself is effectively broke and in no position to respond. That’s why it is essential that the Chancellor extends the emergency funding for social care in his Budget, so older people are not left high and dry.

“This emergency situation is far from over so far as social care is concerned and it will take at least a year, more likely two, before providers can stabilise their finances. Therefore, just as with some other sectors, the Government must give social care the continuing financial support it desperately needs.”