A real-terms cut to benefits could push 400,000 people into poverty by April, new analysis has warned today.
Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found the decision to uprate benefits by 3.1% in April - even though inflation is forecast to hit 7% - will cause many of the UK's poorest families to be worse off financially.
It found around nine million households who receive benefits due to low incomes will be £500 worse off on average due to inflation from April.
Couple families with children in receipt of benefits due to low income will experience a real-terms cut of £720 per year, while the figure across all pensioner couples is £540 per year, according to the analysis.
JRF is calling on the Government uprating means-tested benefits by 7% in April to protect the poorest families from the worst impacts of rising costs.
Peter Matejic, deputy director of evidence and impact at JRF, said: 'People on the lowest incomes have already experienced a decade of cuts and freezes, followed by an overnight cut of £1,000 last autumn. The decision not to uprate benefits in line with inflation represents another cut for millions of people whose incomes will now fall even further behind the cost of living.
'There can be no justification for this. Our social security system should protect people from harm, not put them in danger. The government must change course and ensure that benefit levels reflect the higher rate of inflation we are all now experiencing. There is no doubt that a failure to do so will leave more people in our society unable to meet their most basic needs.'
A Government spokesperson said: 'We know this has been a challenging time for many people, which is why we’re providing support worth around £12bn this financial year and next, to help households with the cost of living.'