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Election campaign silence is broken but not in the best way

With the election campaign in the final straight we are finally hearing more about issues and policies that impact many of the people we help.

Unfortunately however it’s more from charities and think-tanks than politicians or manifestos. A widely quoted ‘conspiracy of silence’ is hanging over commentary about overall tax and spending policy.

Take just one example: what is to happen to working-age incapacity and disability benefits? This really matters to a lot of Citizens Advice clients everywhere, including Epsom & Ewell (chart).

PIP Clients 23-24
Working-age disability benefits are expected to increase in the years ahead causing problems for the incoming government.

Much has been said about increases in ‘economic inactivity’ and the proportion of working-age people claiming these benefits – up from 16% to 23% in the past decade. The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies says 4.2m working-age people are now claiming health-related benefits and that could be 30% higher by 2030.

Causes? Improvements?

On the other hand, we’ve heard much less about the causes which include real-terms cuts in standard unemployment benefit and the continuing cost-of-living crisis.

During the election campaign we have joined regular national Citizens Advice data insights events about changing the debate. In brief the charity believes policymakers should:

  • recognise the need to maintain support or risk unsustainable debt levels
  • reform the assessment process (‘navigating the system leaves many people feeling defeated’), and
  • make the ‘work coach’ role more supportive and effective.

Let’s keep fingers crossed and see what happens in the weeks and months ahead. It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over (Comeon England).

The next Citizens Advice public Data Insights – ‘The First 100 Days of a New Government’ – is on Tuesday 16 July 12.30-13.30. Find out more and register. Latest CAEE Campaign posts here.

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