The UK’s benefits system is penalising the most vulnerable and forcing people onto the streets, former prime minister Gordon Brown has warned.
Writing for the Big Issue’s Christmas edition, Brown called for the government to stop benefit deductions immediately – before Christmas and for the duration of the energy crisis.
Brown, who in response to the energy bills crisis created an Anti-Poverty Coalition which includes the Big Issue and other leading organisations, has spent the autumn campaigning for an increase to universal credit.
“I am more convinced than ever that we need to guarantee a decent minimum income to all in need. But if the government wants to ease pressures before Christmas, the first thing they should do immediately is suspend deductions for the duration of this energy crisis,” Brown said.
He added: “No one should be forced onto the streets. But I’m sensing that our benefits system is now doing just that. It’s not just that benefits are too low for families to make ends meet as fuel and food bills soar.
“It’s that during the worst winter in living memory for millions, the Department for Work and Pensions are persisting with a policy that penalises the most vulnerable – syphoning off deductions from already low benefits – and causing destitution.”