Charity coalition calls on next PM to tackle cost of living ‘national emergency’

The next Prime Minister needs to ensure low-income families are supported as they struggle to heat their homes this winter amid the cost-of-living crisis, a coalition of 70 charities and community groups has warned.

The soaring cost of energy prices and household bills is a “national emergency” and the “gravest issue” the UK faces according to the coalition, which includes the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Trussell Trust, Save the Children UK and Age UK.

Other charities involved include Scope, The Children’s Society, Carers UK and St Mungo’s.

In a letter to the two Conservative Party leadership contenders Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the coalition urges them to show “compassion and leadership”.

The government has already promised £1,200 support to the most vulnerable households but rising costs “means the support package is no longer sufficient”, warns the coalition.

“This situation cannot be allowed to continue,” states their letter.

“As the prospective leaders of this country, we urge you to act now to demonstrate the compassion and leadership needed to tackle this issue head on.

“We ask you both to pledge that, under your premiership, everyone who needs it will be properly supported when they hit hard times.

“This means ensuring that, at a minimum, the social security system always provides people with enough to be able to afford the essentials.

“Low-income households need urgent reassurance now that they will receive sufficient support to weather the cost-of-living storm as it intensifies further this winter.”

The coalition wants to see the £1,200 in core support to vulnerable families “at least doubled” and should vary by need “with higher payments for households with higher needs, for instance families with children”.

Dan Paskins, director of UK impact at Save the Children said that the charity has signed the letter “because the UK government must do more – and fast”.

“At the very least, the government should double the emergency support package announced in May to ensure families are shielded from a catastrophic winter.

“The most efficient way to provide this support would be through further payments through the social security system."

Joseph Rowntree Foundation chief executive Paul Kissack added: “History shows that, when Britain faces a national emergency, Government is at its best when it steps up and takes determined and creative action to protect people and businesses, often in previously ‘unthinkable’ ways.

“We saw that after the 2008 crash with the nationalisation of banks. We saw it in the pandemic with a generous furlough scheme. The nation faces another national emergency now, and people rightly expect the Government to act to offer protection.

“Instead, we are seeing a Government asleep at the wheel, and leadership contenders failing to grasp the scale and urgency of the crisis.”

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