Mini budget: Shropshire money advice expert says more help needed amid cost of living crisis

A leading money advice expert said the Government needs to do more to help people impacted by the cost of living crisis.

Daniel Bebbington from Wrekin Housing Group
Daniel Bebbington from Wrekin Housing Group

Daniel Bebbington, a debt and energy manger with The Wrekin Housing Group, was speaking following chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's mini budget.

He said: “The past few have seen some welcome announcements such as the news that energy bills are being capped at £2,500 a year from October 1. A much better outcome than had been feared, this cap will help families meet rising costs, but they will still be a big stretch for many households.

“All households will be given a one-off £400 discount on their fuel bills from October. In addition, £650 will be paid to more than eight million low-income households who receive many benefits or tax credits. Further payments of £300 to pensioner households and £150 to disabled people will also go ahead.

“The basic rate of income tax will be cut to 19p in the pound from April 2023. This is great news as millions of people will be better off by an average of £170 per year.

“Scrapping the National Insurance (NI) rise is a real positive, especially for those people who are earning higher wages.

"However, it’s not benefitting those people on low income or pensioners. I think the Government could have done more to help those people who are really struggling.

“I am a real advocate for bringing back the £20 Universal Credit uplift. It made such a huge difference to the people we’ve supported here at Wrekin – and I’ve seen the devastating impact it’s had on people since it was scrapped earlier this year. It was right to pay an extra £20 on Universal Credit in lockdown when circumstances were bad, they're considerably worse now due to rising bills.

“£20 a week might not seem like much to some people, but it was a lifeline for many of our tenants. People are having to choose between eating, paying their rent, eating themselves or feeding their children.”

Mr Bebbington is part of The Wrekin Housing Group’s Money Matters Team which offers support to the housing association’s 28,000 tenants.

He said that so far this year the team had secured £3.5m in extra income for tenants – through Discretionary Housing Payments, writing off debt, reducing people’s utility bills and securing charitable grants.

During the last year, the team has received 1,743 requests for support – and demand for the service has increased in recent months.

Mr Bebbington added: “We are seeing a real increase in people needing our help. We are also seeing people with modest or salaries who were struggling to pay their bills.

“It’s our aim to help people early, before their financial situation gets too bad. For Wrekin tenants facing money struggles it’s important they know we are by their side to help them through – not just now, but for the many months to come.”

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