Millions of households in the UK are receiving extra payments from the government from today. The ‘cost of living' payments are designed to help those on lower incomes, who receive certain types of benefit, to cope with rising costs. However, a Christian charity says the "helicopter payments" are not enough to make a real difference to those struggling to make ends meet.
The first of three instalments, worth about £300 each, will be deposited automatically into people's bank accounts before 17th May.
Additional payments will be made to eligible people living with disabilities, as well as to pensioners who receive Winter Fuel payments.
Gareth McNab, from the charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP), tells Premier some of the hardships people are facing may have been hidden from view. “We know a significant proportion of people are regularly skipping meals. We know... people have been going without heating and lighting."
Prices of basic essentials are continuing to rise as the UK grapples with one of the highest inflation rates in the Western world. Gareth says many churches have provided an essential lifeline. "Hundreds of church communities around the country have been... providing a safe space that is warm and welcoming to people who may not be able to afford to keep the energy running at home. [For them] to come and use the church's energy bill has been fantastic."
He says many of these spaces are now transitioning into new ways of being welcoming, "As the summer moves on, hundreds of churches are partnering with Christians Against Poverty to provide our debt advice and other services, and we're grateful for every one of them."
But he says churches can't carry the weight of the situation much longer. He conitnued: "We can't keep patching up a broken social security system with these one off payments, 'helicopter money' dropped in from a benevolent government.
"We have to do something about the state of incomes in this country.
"For people who are on wages, we need a real living wage for all people working everywhere."
The government scheme is designed to offer support during what the Chancellor described as a “very difficult period”. Those who are eligible will receive a second payment in the autumn and the final instalment will be given in the spring of 2024.