Members of the Civil Society Group have written an open letter to the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt MP, calling for swift action to address the cost-of-living crisis in his Autumn Statement, now scheduled for 17 November.
The letter, signed by 29 leaders of organisations that collectively represent thousands of charities across the country and beyond, calls for urgent action in four priority areas.
1. Uprating benefits in line with inflation. People living on low incomes need reassurance that the government will raise benefits in line with inflation as usual, to make sure the situation for those on the lowest incomes does not get any worse.
2. Public services and local authority funding. Charities, volunteers and local authorities work closely together across the UK to ensure that people can access the support and services they need to live their lives well. But to continue working this way for the long term, local government needs a sustainable financial settlement to provide targeted and effective crisis support for those most in need.
3. Ensuring no further cuts to international development spend. Despite UK aid being set as a percentage linked to the UK’s economic performance, it has already suffered nearly a 30% reduction since 2020. The UK aid budget needs to be protected from further cuts and government should consider 0.5% Gross National Income (GNI) not as a cap but as a floor, until the two fiscal tests are met and we see a return to 0.7%.
4. Support for energy bills. The Energy Bill Relief Scheme is providing vital support for charities, voluntary organisations and community groups. But with the scheme set to come to an end on 31 March 2023, charities already facing acute pressures to their finances are in need of certainty. We urge the Chancellor to ensure that the experience of voluntary sector organisations is included in the Treasury-led review of the scheme post April 2023, and within measures to incentivise energy efficiency for non-domestic consumers.
DSC along with many other national infrastructure and representative organisations is a member of the Civil Society Group. You can view the full letter here. Keep an eye out for updates and analysis on the Autumn Statement at www.dsc.org.uk and @DSC_Charity.