Sir, Paul Johnson (“Covid gives us the chance to choose how generous benefits should be”, Business, Oct 12) offers a clear description of the rocks and hard places between which the Treasury, and millions of families on low incomes, find themselves. Equally clear is the evidence offered by food banks: the temporary £20 weekly boost in universal credit has protected large numbers of people from hunger and, if we are to prevent food banks from being overwhelmed, it needs to be maintained beyond next March.
On the eve of the pandemic the very poorest households were the only ones in Britain to have suffered a reduction in disposable income since 2010. Many more households are now seeking help from the benefits system, often for the first time in their lives. Three urgent moves are needed: the temporary uplift in universal credit needs to be made permanent; contributory benefits need to be increased; and official calculations need to be published annually on the benefit rates that are required to protect people from destitution.
Lord Field of Birkenhead, trustee
Andrew Forsey, director, Feeding Britain