Citizens Advice boss Gillian Guy has warned the government that imposing an artificial cap on welfare spending is a huge gamble.
The news comes after the government confirmed that it will be placing a cap on annually managed expenditure in today’s Spending Review.
In her response, Guy said that the Treasury is capping its ability to respond appropriately to changes in the economic situation, which removes government’s ability to provide a strong and fair safety net.
She explained: “People’s legitimate need for support should decide spending levels, not the other way round. Forcing ministers into a situation where they choose between political embarrassment, or meeting vulnerable people’s living costs, may mean that people with a disability, or who are struggling to meet housing costs, do not get the help they need.
“We need to see further specific details about how the cap will work, but deciding whether to increase support for people struggling to pay rent or who have a disability should be based on people’s need, not on political calculations.”
However, Guy did acknowledge the benefits of reducing universal benefits for over-65s, such as winter fuel payments, may be uncomfortable but is right.
She said: “When people, especially low-paid families and those struggling to find work, are feeling the squeeze in these tough economic times, this is a discussion that can’t be side-stepped.
“Britain needs a sustainable welfare budget that continues to be a safety net for vulnerable people, whether young or old and in real need.”