The 2023 Autumn Statement, announced on 22 November, fails to address the deepening inequalities faced by communities of colour, who have already been hit first and hardest by the cost of living crisis, and are being left without the vital support they need this winter.
Our analysis shows:
- The tightening of conditionality in accessing incapacity and disability benefits is cruel and is likely to disproportionately impact disabled people of colour.
- Cutting National Insurance Contributions should not be a priority given the dire state of our public services, and will have minimal impact on people’s financial hardship.
- We welcome the decision to uprate benefits with inflation, but this is a minimum expectation and doesn’t compensate for previous freezes which have made benefits inadequate to afford the essentials - this is especially the case for people of colour who are more likely to be living in deep poverty.
- Unfreezing Local Housing Allowance will be an important lifeline for many renters of colour in the immediate-term, but the housing crisis requires much bigger reform.
- Benefit reforms have also failed again to reverse the two-child benefit cap, which has a disparate impact on families of colour.
- Increasing the minimum wage is welcome, but we would also like to see more regulation around the insecure work that people of colour often occupy.
In the midst of colliding crises - from crumbling schools to a climate emergency, and from healthcare to a housing crisis - we make the case for an economy that pursues prosperity over power, designs-out the policy generated inequalities, and offers compassion for those suffering.
Dr Shabna Begum, our interim co-CEO said:
“The fact that we are talking about people starving and freezing to death in 2023 is unacceptable, but that 3.8 million people in the UK are living in destitution is incomprehensible. As we enter another gruelling winter, living standards are set to plummet to record lows. Working class people of colour, who are already more likely to experience food and fuel insecurity, and deep poverty, will feel this acutely.
"This is no accident. Through successive budgets and policies, the government has deliberately chipped away at the livelihoods of everyday people, eroded our public services and social security systems, and deepened the inequalities faced by working class communities and people of colour in particular. We urgently need a fundamental shift away from regressive economic policy, and towards a compassionate, anti-raicst and progressive economy that works to tackle entrenched inequalities, redistribute wealth and opportunity, and ensure that no one falls through the cracks.”