Spring Budget ignores reality of increasing poverty levels

Houses of Parliament and The Thames.
UK Government’s budget fails to address reality that poverty is getting worse and that tackling it demands bold initiatives’. 

Responding to today’s Spring Budget, debt advice and policy experts Christians Against Poverty (CAP) welcomed the extension of the Energy Price Guarantee and the increased childcare support. However, CAP said that overall, the budget was silent on tackling dramatically escalating poverty levels and brought in rigorous sanctions that will add to poverty’s punishment.

Gareth McNab headshot.

Last year CAP saw a dramatic increase in the number of clients asking for emergency aid, and a worrying increase in deficit budgets — where people just cannot afford to pay for the everyday essentials.” 

Gareth McNab, CAP’s Director of External Affairs 

Despite the Energy Price Guarantee extension announced today there was no further support offered to low income households who will continue to struggle throughout this year. Social security levels are still failing to cover people’s basic needs and the Chancellor missed a key opportunity to provide the vital support that is needed such as increasing Local Housing Allowance rates to reflect the true cost of renting. This budget fails to address the reality of the poverty our clients are experiencing.”

A nationally-representative poll commissioned by CAP from YouGov last month exposed the extent of people’s concerns for 2023. It highlighted that 65% of UK adults believe that the cost of bills and essentials will put a significant burden on their finances this year. Half also said they had lost sleep in the previous six months, worrying about their finances.

We are hopeful that the UK Government’s reform of disability benefits, such as removing the Work Capability Assessment, will bring more dignity for claimants, but remain concerned over the UK Government’s approach to adding conditions to these. At CAP we know that sanctions can have a massive impact on people’s budgets and their mental health, pushing people into further hardship, unable to afford the essentials and wondering even how they can go on.”

Gareth McNab continued: Poverty won’t just disappear if we stay silent about it and hope it goes away. We need the UK Government to commit to bold initiatives that set out to end UK poverty, working alongside people with direct experience of poverty and those organisations who support them. The Chancellor himself acknowledged that the work of charities is so very important to our society, noting that we can reach people and communities with support that central and local government cannot.”

This budget we celebrate a victory as the UK Government abolishes the poverty premium for prepayment meter users, something we’ve campaigned about since 2015. This is an example of how policy can redesign unjust systems and how coming together to fight these works. We want the UK Government to be much bolder in tackling poverty, and offer impactful initiatives that show a real commitment to ensuring low income households have liveable incomes that allow them to afford the essentials the rest of us take for granted.”

CAP is asking the UK Government to make the following commitments: 

Energy — commit to targeted financial support for low income households, for instance a social tariff.

Universal Credit - should be uprated in line with inflation and include an Essentials Guarantee as a core component to ensure it is adequate.

Minimum income - in an era of high costs and low incomes CAP is asking the Government to review Minimum Income Standards in social security and wages.

Free debt advice - CAP and many others across the charity free debt advice sector are calling on politicians and policy makers, energy providers, utilities companies and financial services to come together with local communities to end UK poverty by properly funding the provision of free debt advice.

Gareth McNab concluded: Today’s budget will not be enough to turn the tide on the escalating poverty levels currently afflicting 13.4 million people across the UK today.”

CAP believes that change is not only essential but possible, so we will continue to support people through the provision of free debt help through our network of local church partners across the UK and by challenging the status quo that accepts one in five of the UK living in poverty.”

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity working with over 800 affiliated churches to deliver debt help, budgeting guidance, support to find work, life skills groups and more. Visit capuk.org to find out more.

Media contact: [email protected] or Susan Littlemore, PR Manager on 07449 167058

CAP is committed to its services being available to all individuals regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.


CAP commissioned a YouGov Poll of a nationally representative sample of 2,098 people in February 2023.

Population figures have been calculated using ONS mid-year UK adult population estimates for 2020 of 52,890,044.

All calculations related to population have been carried out by Christians Against Poverty, using YouGov and ONS data.