The”Other Britain” Heidi Allen and Frank Field launch report on destitution in Britain

MPs Heidi Allen and Frank Field have released an interim report on destitution in Britain. The report sets out the beginnings of a reform programme, with the aim to tackle the root causes of destitution in the “Other Britain.”

The report, The ‘Other Britain’ and the failure of the welfare state’, explores the findings from the multiple visits Heidi and Frank made to food banks and community projects in: Poplar, Waterloo, Leicester, Morecambe, Glasgow and Chester.

The report has been published during their visit to Newcastle, 11 July 2019, to mark the start of the second half of their inquiry.

In the report, Heidi and Frank highlight the key issues, leading to destitution in Britain, as:

  • the Benefit Freeze
  • Universal Credit
  • 5-week wait and advance payments
  • Third party deductions and old social loans
  • Sanctions
  • Work Capability Assessments
  • Medical assessments and Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • No recourse to public funds
  • Job centres
  • The gig economy and the working poor
  • Problem debt

Each of the issues they explore  are based on their observations during their tour of the UK. The report goes on to make recommendations on how the above issues should be addressed; this includes seeing an end to the 5-week wait, and the benefit freeze, among others.

Heidi comments: ‘For the most vulnerable people in our society, any reduction, delay, or loss of income from work or benefits brings into play food banks, rising debt, high risk loans and the risk of destitution. The phenomenal volunteers and community workers who care for this group have made it clear that the state is failing in its obligation to guarantee a national minimum standard of living. We agree with them. Voluntary organisations are at risk of sinking under the sheer weight of responsibility vacated by the state without the necessary funds. A new balance must be struck between the state and the charitable sector to ensure that all people can access basic essentials and good quality, nutritious food in a way that is dignified.’

Heidi and Frank will begin their reform programme next week when they present legislation to offer greater financial security to workers on zero-hours contracts.

The House, Parliament’s Magazine, and the Guardian discuss the MPs visits, and report, in their articles which you can view here and here.

Heidi and Frank discussed their look into the “Other Britain” with Channel 4 here.