Growth cannot be at the expense of those already struggling

News – 24 October 2022

Grand Union has today called on the Government to protect people locally who are already struggling in the cost-of-living crisis.

Group Chief Executive, Aileen Evans, has written to 10 MPs from across Grand Union’s operating area explaining the Government must keep its pledge of raising benefits at least with inflation and make changes to funding so we can invest more in existing and new homes.

We’ve asked them to contact the Government about this ahead of the Chancellor’s Fiscal Plan announcement on Friday 31 October.

Aileen said: “People on the lowest incomes will be even worse off if benefits are not increased in line with inflation, forcing them to make even harder choices in the worsening cost of living crisis. Across the 10 constituencies, data from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows an average of 18% of families – that’s almost 95,000 households – receive means-tested benefits. The benefits provide an invaluable safety net, including the 41% of recipients of Universal Credit who are in work.”

Five measures have been set out in a letter sent to the Secretaries of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Department for Work and Pensions by PlaceShapers, the national network of place-based social landlords of which we are a part, and the Chartered Institute of Housing.

The measures are

1. Increase benefits in line with the consumer prices index annual rate for September 2022, as the government had previously committed to.

2. Amend the tax system so we pay 5% VAT for improvements to existing homes, the same as demolishing and building new homes. Nationally, this could provide a £15.1 billion stimulus to the economy, 95,480 extra jobs over five years, and save almost 240,000 tonnes of CO2.

3. Allocate additional grant funding so our investment in future homes is not harmed by any lost rental income associated with a rent cap.

4. Relax the criteria on existing housing funds to allow more regeneration and retrofitting which would allow us to make homes greener.

5. Reform the funding system so we can invest money from our shared ownership sales into improving existing homes, rather than just building new ones.


Percentages of families receiving means testing benefits in each constituency

Constituency Percentage of families receiving means-tested benefits
Corby 22%
Daventry 16%
Northampton South 26%
South Northamptonshire 12%
Wellingborough 23%
Mid Bedfordshire 14%
North East Bedfordshire 15%
South West Bedfordshire 18%
Milton Keynes North 23%
Milton Keynes South 24%