Cost of living aid should be spread over six months, say MPs

Cost-of-living support payments to people on means-tested benefits are due to be spread over next winter, the Treasury Committee has demanded.

Payments totaling up to £900 will be made to households on means-tested benefits in 2023-24, building on the support that has been made available this year.

The committee said these payments should be spread over the winter period, with one payment each month for six months.

He said the Treasury told him it expected payments to be made on a similar pattern to this year.

The government has said there will be more than one payment and further details will be given in due course.

The committee also highlighted eligibility for ‘cliff edges’, where those who earn just £1 too much, or become eligible for a benefit a day too late, receive no help. This has implications for equity and work incentives, he said.

MPs said many people would worry about the cost of heating their homes (PA)

As support is the same for all recipients, rather than being reduced as someone’s income increases, households may miss out on support if they increase their income through additional work, a he added.

Smaller and more regular support payments, with more frequent assessment periods, would help smooth the edges of the cliff, the report says.

The report says: “While additional payments to households receiving means-tested benefits are welcome, they will not reach all low-income households.”

The committee recommended that the Treasury provide it with a more in-depth analysis of low-income households that will not receive cost-of-living payments in 2023-24.

Harriett Baldwin, chair of the Treasury committee, said: ‘As winter approaches and temperatures drop, many will worry about the cost of their energy and heating bills.

“In addition to the support already provided this year, the Chancellor has told us that new cost-of-living support will be available next winter for means-tested benefit recipients.

“It risks creating perverse cliffs and eroding incentives to work, and our cross-party committee offers a way to mitigate those risks.”

A government spokesperson said: ‘We are protecting the most vulnerable households this winter with cost of living support worth at least £1,200 going into the millions. Many payments, including cost of living payments, energy bill support program and winter fuel payments, have been staggered throughout the year and the household support fund is available all year round.

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