We’ve joined forces with more than 50 organisations in the North East of England to share our support for an increase in Universal Credit in line with inflation by signing an open letter to the Chancellor.

More than half of all babies, children and young people growing up in the North East of England are in families relying on Universal Credit or similar legacy benefits. And currently there is no certainty that Universal Credit payments will increase in line with inflation.

When the cost of essentials goes up, but Universal Credit does not, the already high levels of child poverty we see in our region are exacerbated. More and more families will endure real term cuts to their budgets, impacting not just food, warmth or security today; but health, education and opportunities tomorrow.

Our research with Health Equity North earlier this year tells us that because of poverty, people in our region:

  • Are more likely to have a life limiting long-term illness than the rest of England, with the national average being 17.6% and the percentage of people in County Durham living with a life limiting long-term illness standing at 23.7%
  • Are more likely to have a major health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia. The amount of people living with a major health condition in County Durham is more than 10% higher than the national average.
  • Live shorter lives overall than in other regions of England, the average life expectancy for men in County Durham is 78.3 years compared with the national average of 79.8 years. For women, in County Durham the average life expectancy is 81.8 years against a national average of 83.4 years.

That’s why we support The North East Child Poverty Commission in urging the Chancellor to use his Autumn Statement later this month to confirm that social security payments will be increased at least by inflation from next April. Along with

An increase in Universal Credit to match inflation will mean families in County Durham have enough money to meet their basic needs and to make sure their children have enough healthy food to eat.

If we can tackle the causes of poverty today, we give everyone a chance at a better, brighter tomorrow.

Read more on The North East Child Poverty Commission’s website.

See the letter to the Chancellor.