Are there more cost of living payments on the way from the DWP?

  • Post last modified:March 3, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is conducting a review into the cost of living payments. Some corporate media like the Mirror have reported that this might mean there are more cost of living payments in the pipeline. However, the evidence for this really doesn’t add up.

DWP: barely giving people enough to live on

As the Canary has documented, the DWP’s cost of living payments have been controversial. There have been two rounds of them. The most recent one saw the department give people £900, split into three payments. It paid the first one in April 2023, the second payment of £300 in October/November, and the third payment of £299 from from 6 February.

People have argued that firstly the money doesn’t even cover the real-terms cuts the government has made to benefits. Secondly, the payments haven’t reflected the rising price of everything (inflation).

Despite this, the DWP has continued with the payments, anyway – with the one that arrived from 6 February supposedly being the last. However, it now seems the DWP is looking at the payments again – if you believe what the Mirror says.

Are there more cost of living payments?

As both the Mirror and the Daily Record reported, the department is conducting a review into the cost of living payments. The Daily Record noted that a Conservative Party peer said in the House of Lords that the DWP is doing an ‘evaluation’ of the payments to:

understand their effectiveness as a means of support for low-income and vulnerable households.

Then, the DWP told the Mirror that:

An evaluation of the cost of living payments is underway. This will seek to understand their effectiveness as a means of support for low-income and vulnerable households. Fieldwork is due to commence in early 2024 with full findings available later in the year. Accelerating the evaluation to be published ahead of 2024/25 would be detrimental to the robustness of the evaluation, but any early relevant findings from the fieldwork will feed into policy-making decisions.

However, this doesn’t mean anything from the DWP – even though the Mirror made out it did. It ran with the headline:

DWP to review £900 cost of living payment scheme – and it could mean more cash

Bear in mind we’ve been here before. Last October, the Canary reported on the fact that media like Birmingham Live (a sister publication of the Mirror) jumped on the DWP saying it was conducting this same review – spinning that it could mean more cost of living payments. At the time, the department said the review would be ready in “the autumn” of 2023. Clearly, that didn’t happen.

DWP unlikely to give our more cost of living payments

Moreover, the government and DWP are currently carrying out a further crackdown on people’s right to benefits. As the Canary previously reported, in last autumn’s budget, chancellor Jeremy Hunt already announced a further clampdown on chronically ill and disabled people. Specifically:

  • Changing the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to force more chronically ill and disabled people to work from home. This could lead to the DWP stopping hundreds of thousands of people’s benefits.
  • More people the DWP says are fit for work but who it doesn’t think are doing enough to find work will face tougher sanctions and lose things like free prescriptions.
  • The DWP will eventually scrap the WCA altogether, and make the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) health assessment the only judge of people’s illness and impairments. this could lead to over 600,000 people losing their benefits.

This is on top of whatever chancellor Jeremy Hunt announces in the Spring Budget on Wednesday 6 March. Moreover, all this comes after years of freezes and real-term cuts to benefit rates since 2016.

Let’s not forget as well that the DWP failed to give at least 1.6 million chronically ill and disabled people the full cost of living payments. Instead, it gave them some payments of £150. This has been devastating for many. Chronically ill and disabled people face far higher costs than non-disabled people – on average a staggering £1,122 per household, per month.

It’s unlikely there are more cost of living payments coming

So, in a climate where the DWP is planning to take away more people’s benefits, when the money it does give out isn’t enough, and when the government has made a mess of the public’s finances – any more cost of living payments seem unlikely.

Featured image via screengrab

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