Millions of claimants breathed a sigh of relief when George Osborne not only dropped his attack on tax credits but also left housing benefit alone in his autumn statement this week. But many people will still lose out according to independent bodies.
Universal credit losses
Whilst the immediate horror of huge cuts in tax credits or housing benefit has been avoided, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that under universal credit (UC) 2.6 million families will lose an average of £1,600 a year.
Meanwhile the Resolution Foundation has argued that cuts to UC will cost some working families up to £3,000 for, whilst the average loss will be approximately £1,000.
Universal credit savings
The savings to be made from universal credit also depend on enough people being transferred onto it. So far, the DWP’s record on moving claimants onto UC has been abysmal. Unless there is a dramatic upsurge in the numbers being put on UC in the very near future then more cuts will be needed to cover the shortfall in expected UC savings.
Other benefits savings
There are other question marks hanging over Osborne’s figures. The DLA to PIP transfer process is not happening as quickly as planned, meaning fewer savings in this parliament. And Maximus is struggling to recruit enough health professionals to deal with the huge backlog of checks on current employment and support allowance claimants, meaning the cost of ESA has not reduced as planned.
The autumn statement was definitely not disastrous for claimants in the way that had been expected. However, for many claimants the cuts have been postponed rather than cancelled And, if Osborne is to stick to his target for benefits cuts at the same time as IDS continues to mismanage every major change he attempts, then the let-up in attacks on claimants may only be temporary.