Spring Statement disappoints Christians

(Photo: Unsplash/Nick Fewings)

The Chancellor's Spring Statement does not go far enough to support struggling Brits living on the sharp end of the cost of living crisis, Christian charities have warned.

Rishi Sunak unveiled a £6bn support package on Wednesday, but CARE said it was disappointed that most of the money would "benefit the top 50 per cent of the population" while only a third would go to those in the bottom half. 

The Christian charity said the mini Budget "fails to prioritise those who most need support", and that the package should have targeted people in poverty who have children.

Tim Cairns, Senior Policy Officer at CARE, said it would have been more helpful for families if the Chancellor had raised child benefit. 

"Raising tax thresholds is a blunt instrument that fails to target support to those feeling financial strain," he said. 

He also questioned the planned increase in the National Insurance contributions (NIC) threshold, saying this would benefit the wealthiest in society the most.

"Any increase in the NIC threshold benefits households without children as much as it does families. This is because of the individualised nature of our tax system, which does not consider how many people live in a household," he said. 

"An increase in the NIC threshold does not provide as much benefit for those on tax credits as it does for people on higher incomes. The increase in take home pay will result in a loss of tax credits.

"For some of the poorest, the increase in the NIC threshold will mean they only keep 45% of the Chancellor's NIC dividend, while those who are wealthier will keep it all.

"At a time when creativity was needed to help families, it is disappointing that the Chancellor did not choose to do more to help families in poverty, the current cost of living crisis is hitting families hardest, they deserved better."

Debt advice charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) said the Spring Statement failed to create financial security for low income families. 

It said the Chancellor should have frozen Local Housing Allowance and uprated benefits by 7% in April to help the poorest families weather the crisis.

CAP's Director of External Affairs, Gareth McNab, said the measures announced on Wednesday would have "little to no impact" on low income households, and that the charity was expecting to see more people needing its help. 

"There was so much the Chancellor could've done but didn't," he said.

"The announcements today ignored people in the toughest situations - people unable to work because of disability or ill-health, people with caring responsibilities and renters.

"We have already seen calls to our debt helpline increase 47% this January compared to last and we fully expect without the right type of Government support that many more people on low incomes will fall into serious problem debt in the months and years to come."