Cost-of-living support should be spread over winter, say MPs


Payments totalling up to £900 will be given to households on means-tested benefits in 2023-24, building on the support which has been made available this year

Cost-of-living support payments to people on means-tested benefits should be spread out over next winter, the Treasury Committee has urged.

Payments totalling up to £900 will be given to households on means-tested benefits in 2023-24, building on the support which has been made available this year.

The committee said these payments should be spread across the winter period, with a payment each month for six months.

It said the Treasury had told it that its expectation is that payments would be given in a similar pattern to this year.

The Government has said there will be more than one payment and further details will be given in due course.

The committee also highlighted eligibility ‘cliff edges’, where those who earn just £1 too much, or become eligible for a benefit a day too late, receive no support. This has consequences for fairness and work incentives, it said.

As the support is the same for all recipients, rather than being tapered off as someone’s income increases, households face missing out on the support if they boost their income through additional work, it added.

Smaller, more regular support payments, with more frequent assessment periods, would help to smooth the cliff edges, the report argued.

The report said: While the additional payments to households in receipt of means-tested benefits are welcome, they will not reach all low-income households.

The committee recommended that the Treasury provides it with further analysis of low-income households who will not receive cost-of-living payments in 2023–24.

Harriett Baldwin, chair of the Treasury Committee, said: As winter draws in and temperatures drop, many will be worrying about the cost of their energy and heating bills.

Alongside the support already provided this year, the Chancellor has told us that further cost-of-living assistance will be available next winter to recipients of means-tested benefits, she said.

She said: This runs the risk of creating perverse cliff-edges and eroding work incentives, and our cross-party committee is proposing a way of mitigating these risks.

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