Government confirms freeze on working age benefits minutes after Prince Harry wedding news revealed

Freeze continues amid the longest fall in living standards for 60 years

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 28 November 2017 02:38
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have announced their engagement

The Government has confirmed it will be freezing benefits until 2020 costing a typical working family around £300 per year.

Caroline Dinenage, a work and pensions minister, said the freeze for working age people who receive benefits will go on even as the state pension and some other benefits increase by three per cent, in line with inflation.

This will be a real terms cut in income of £315 a year for the typical working family with two children as the cost of living will eat further into their income, according to a report by the Resolution Foundation.

The freeze, which has been in place since 2015, has coincided with the longest fall in living standards in the past 60 years with the thinktank saying real disposable incomes are now to set to fall for 19 successive quarters.

In a report published before the budget, the foundation warned the freeze would worsen inequality which would take an average of £715 away from the poorest third of households whereas the richest third looks set to gain £185 from other tax breaks.

Some will see the cut partially offset by the increase in minimum wage, which will go up to £7.83 per hour from April, but many will still feel the squeeze as the Treasury hopes to save £1.9bn over the next year.

The news came just twenty minutes after Clarence House announced Prince Harry’s engagement to American actress Meghan Markle.

Stephen Lloyd the Liberal Democrats work and pensions spokesman said: “The Tories seem to be shamelessly using the royal engagement to bury bad news. Millions of hard-pressed families are set to be pushed over the edge into poverty by these cruel cuts.”

Meanwhile Debbie Abrahams, the Shadow work and pensions secretary, said Theresa May had “failed to make good on her promise to help those struggling to get by, at a time when Britain is facing an unprecedented two lost decades of earnings growth”.

“By continuing to freeze working-age benefits when inflation is soaring, the government is subjecting 10.5 million households to an average cut of £450 a year,” she said.

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