Unmasking the Reality of Poverty: Gordon Brown Calls for Urgent Review of Universal Credit
In a poignant plea for change, former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on government urging for a comprehensive review of the Universal Credit system. Speaking to Sky News, Brown expressed deep concern over the escalating poverty levels in the UK, stressing that 2024 presents a critical challenge in addressing the pressing needs of the nation.
A Shocking Resurgence of Poverty
At Caridon Foundation we have seen first hand the rise in poverty post-pandemic. Recounting his upbringing in a mining town, Brown shared his disbelief at witnessing a resurgence of poverty that he thought had been eradicated. He highlighted distressing statistics, such as a million children without a bed of their own and two million families lacking essential appliances like cookers and washing machines. The grim reality extends further, with children unable to afford toothpaste, leaving them unable to maintain basic hygiene.
Universal Credit Under Scrutiny
The focal point of Brown’s call for action is Universal Credit, a system he deems as fundamentally flawed and in urgent need of review. He emphasised that the single person’s Universal Credit payment represents the lowest share of average earnings since the inception of the social security system. According to Brown, the government bears a duty to address the problematic aspects of Universal Credit through a thorough “root and branch” examination. Over four million children in the country are currently living in poverty. Gordon Brown urged the government to acknowledge their responsibility and take immediate action to reform the system.
A Plea for Corporate Responsibility
We welcomed Mr Brown’s appeal to businesses, both large and small, to join the cause of alleviating poverty by supporting initiatives like “multi-banks”, these are similar to foodbanks, but also offer bedding, furniture and hygiene products. As highlighted, the heart-breaking reality is that some parents are finding themselves unable to afford to keep their children, resulting in emotional distress for both parents and children alike.
The DWP’s Response
In response to these concerns, a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) emphasised the government’s commitment to providing a safety net for millions. They asserted that work remains the best route out of poverty, with Universal Credit supporting families towards employment and greater financial independence. The DWP spokesperson also cited a significant reduction in absolute poverty since 2010, along with ongoing efforts to assist families with the rising cost of living.
A Call for Collective Action
Gordon Brown’s plea for a review of Universal Credit and increased efforts to combat poverty underscores the urgency of the situation. As we navigate the challenges of 2024, the need for collective action from both government and businesses becomes increasingly evident. It is a call to recognise the human impact of poverty and work collaboratively towards meaningful change for the benefit of the most vulnerable members of our society.