Leading charities call on the government to protect already struggling families from Brexit
PUBLISHED: 00:01 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:58 15 February 2019
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A coalition of charities are calling on the government to take urgent action to prevent already struggling families from falling into poverty after Brexit.
The charities, which include the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), Shelter and Child Poverty Action Group are warning the risks posed to low-income families by a no-deal Brexit mean contingency plans must be stepped up.
The JRF said that even if there is a smooth exit from the EU, continuing with the benefit freeze for another year will lead to millions of people in poverty missing out on £220 a year and another 200,000 being pulled into poverty.
The impact of leaving the EU without a deal could be more severe, it has warned.
In an open letter to MPs the coalition said many people are already facing “impossible situations” such as struggling to pay their rent or put food on the table for their children.
The organisations wrote: “There is widespread agreement that some level of economic and social disruption will follow Brexit at least in the short term, and worst of all under a no-deal scenario.
“Low-income families will be worst affected, having already endured years of benefit cuts and freezes. The public services they rely upon are also under pressure due to the consequences of rising poverty.
“We need a new deal for low-income families to cushion the blow and this has prompted us to write to you.
“Without pre-emptive action by the government there is potential for the already shamefully high rates of poverty in the UK to worsen further in the face of price and income shocks.”
The charities called for urgent improvements to Universal Credit, an end to the freeze on working-age benefits and tax credits, and an emergency stimulus package for areas with high levels of poverty.
The letter was signed by officials from the JRF, Shelter, Trussell Trust, Child Poverty Action Group, Action for Children, National Children’s Bureau, Poverty Alliance, Turn2us, Barnardos and ATD Fourth World.