We can’t all work ourselves out of the cost of living crisis

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The government’s responses to the cost of living crisis are mainly long term and do not respond to the immediate and dire situations of people in the greatest need (Boris Johnson to stress work as the fix for cost of living crisis, 22 May). Many have incomes below the tax threshold and will therefore not benefit from any cut in income tax. The £150 council tax rebate and £200 loan will be welcome to some, but will have already been swallowed up by recent energy bills.

An immediate and adequate increase in benefits could surely be brought into play. If not, as is the case with many of this government’s initiatives, saving money now will certainly result in massive future payments necessary to deal with the unfortunate outcomes, such as the results of going without sufficient food, being able to clothe growing children, dealing with threatened eviction from rented property, and defaulting on mortgage payments.

HMRC could surely provide information to identify the majority of these people. Many of them will be receiving universal credit or other benefits, which have been increased this year by much less than the rate of inflation. The need for levelling up is obvious. All these matters require further government spending. The older definition of redistribution of wealth should be brought into play, and could be partly addressed by closer alignment between national insurance and income tax rates.

People on taxable earnings up to £50,000 pay income tax at 20% and NI at 13.25%. People earning more than that pay income tax at 40% for their earnings above £50,000, while NI is a mere 3.25%. How is this fair?
Jill Westby

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Help credit report

I am perplexed that people are suggesting raising universal credit, but what’s not being reported is what will happen to those of us on legacy benefits who never had the uplift during the pandemic. I am unable to work due to mental and physical ill health. I have no chance of re-entering the labour market, so income tax, NI changes, etc, don’t help me at all. The “warm homes” payment will not be paid to me in future, as I understand it, because I am in receipt of a personal independence payment, so from 2023 I won’t be eligible.

My gas and electricity are on prepay and so far this week my electricity has gone off three times; I have put £30 in so far and am back into emergency credit again. I haven’t charged the gas for weeks, so when I next do, the bulk of what I put on will be for “debt” – ie the standing charge. The last time I topped it up with £20, it left me with £4 for gas and no emergency credit.

It would be interesting if you could report on what the government or thinktanks propose doing to help people in my situation deal with the relentless price rises that we cannot avoid.
Lisa J Rafferty
Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire

The government’s insistence that further changes to the universal credit taper are preferable to reinstating the £20 universal credit uplift is further evidence that it is wilfully ignoring that there is a large group of people on universal credit who desperately need help but who cannot work. I worked as a teacher for many years, but due to a brain injury I am unable to work at all. When will the government recognise that not everyone can increase their income through work? They seem to be actively trying to perpetuate the myth that the only reason people don’t work is through laziness.
Carolyn Sutton
Glastonbury, Somerset

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