Despite the double-digit increase in inflation, the government has resisted requests to address the sufficiency and uprating of social security benefits immediately.
The yearly rise in benefit levels has been based on the September Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate but not applied until April of the following year for a number of years.
The benefits increase in April 2022, when inflation was already 9%, was based on the CPI rate from September 2021, which was 3.1%, resulting in a significant decline in real income.
In its Cost of Living report published in July 2022, the cross-party Work and Pensions Committee of MPs suggested that the Government reassess the appropriateness of benefit levels and publish its findings.
The assessment should include a particular evaluation of the sufficiency of disability benefits and a consideration of whether it is acceptable to continue relying on discretionary funds and one-time payments.
However, in an official response to the Committee, the government said: “‘There are no plans to change the up-rating period: using a consistent period for up-rating, for example, the 12 months to September to measure inflation means any peaks and troughs even out over time…
“The Government does not intend to conduct a specific review into the adequacy of benefit levels. There is no objective way of deciding what an adequate level of benefit should be as everyone has different requirements, and beneficiaries are free to spend their benefit as they see fit, in the light of their individual commitments, needs and preferences.
“Similarly extra costs disability benefits are intended to provide a broad contribution to additional costs faced by disabled people and individuals then have the choice and flexibility to prioritise according to their own needs.”
In response, Disability Rights UK policy and Campaigns officer Dan White said: “For the Government to reject the Work and Pensions Committee suggestions for a benefit uplift now is staggering.
“The DPCG had called for an immediate benefit uplift and now this response. Benefits are far below the current rate of inflation, and this means the money received does not cover the basics that a human life needs to survive.
“This announcement is breath-taking and will do no nothing to alleviate the entrenched suffering that Disabled people and carers are spiralling deeper into.
“For humanities sake this must be readdressed, and the Government have to realise that they are condemning millions of families and individuals to unnecessary destitution.”