Charities in plea over cost-of-living support

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The two remaining Tory leadership contenders are facing a call to more than double the level of government support to low-income families to avert a cost-of-living crisis “catastrophe” over the winter.

Seventy charities and community organisations have signed an open letter to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak warning families on benefits face a £1,600 shortfall over the coming months, despite receiving £1,200 in the last government support package.

In the letter, co-ordinated by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), they warn soaring energy bills mean many low-income households are already facing in a choice between skipping meals or not heating their homes properly, and that the situation is only set to get worse.

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“Many of our organisations work directly with these families and are becoming overwhelmed, too often unable to provide the support so desperately needed,” the letter said.

Rishi SunakRishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

“This situation cannot be allowed to continue.

“As the prospective leaders of this country, we urge you to act now to demonstrate the compassion and leadership needed to tackle this issue head on.

“We ask you both to pledge that, under your premiership, everyone who needs it will be properly supported when they hit hard times.

“This means ensuring that, at a minimum, the social security system always provides people with enough to be able to afford the essentials.”

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JRF chief executive Paul Kissack said: “People are already selling their possessions, taking on risky debt and building up arrears they may never be able to pay back.

“And things are about to get far worse.

Planning for a substantial support package needs to start immediately.

“Without it, vulnerable people will face a catastrophe on a vast scale when winter sets in.

“The consequences of sitting idly by are unthinkable.”

Other signatories to the letter include Save the Children, the Trussell Trust, the Children’s Society, Age UK, Shelter, Oxfam GB and the TUC.