This is the final report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) research project looking at the effect of tax, welfare, social security and public spending.
Overall, changes to taxes, benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit (UC) announced since 2010 are regressive, however measured – that is, the largest impacts are felt by those with lower incomes. Those in the bottom two deciles will lose, on average, approximately 10% of net income, with much smaller losses for those higher up the income distribution.
The report, which looks at the impact reforms from 2010 to 2018 will have on various groups across society in 2021 to 2022, suggests children will be hit the hardest as:
- an extra 1.5 million will be in poverty
- the child poverty rate for those in lone parent households will increase from 37% to over 62%
- households with three or more children will see particularly large losses of around £5,600
The report also finds:
- households with at least one disabled adult and a disabled child will lose over £6,500 a year, over 13% of their annual income
- Bangladeshi households will lose around £4,400 a year, in comparison to ‘White’ households, or households with adults of differing ethnicity, which will only lose between £500 and £600 on average
- lone parents will lose an average of £5,250 a year, almost one-fifth of their annual income
- women will lose about £400 per year on average, while men will only lose £30
The negative impacts are largely driven by changes to the benefit system, in particular the freeze in working-age benefit rates, changes to disability benefits, and reductions in Universal Credit rates.
As well as calling on the Government to commit to undertaking cumulative impact assessments of all tax and social security policies, particularly in order to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty, the Commission is also reiterating its call for government to:
- reconsider existing policies that are contributing to negative financial impacts for those who are most disadvantaged
- review the level of welfare benefits to ensure that they provide an adequate standard of living
The announcement comes one week after the Commission submitted a report to the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) highlighting that the UK’s social security system does not provide sufficient assistance to tackle inadequate living standards.