Essentials Guarantee

Today, five in six low-income households are unable to afford the cost of everyday essentials. In my constituency, 9,593 households were claiming universal credit in January 2024, and over 20% of children are living in relative poverty across the constituency. Almost half of households on universal credit across the UK see their payments reduced by deductions and caps, drastically impacting on their ability to keep up with the cost of everyday essentials.

The Trussell Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have been campaigning to embed an Essentials Guarantee into the universal credit system for over a year. The Essentials Guarantee would:

  1. Ensure a legal minimum in universal credit, where deductions cannot cause payments to fall below
  2. Create an independent process to regularly recommend the Essentials Guarantee level, through monitoring the cost of everyday essentials.

Based on the analysis of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, they have found that the essentials guarantee should be set at £120 a week for a single adult, and £200 a week for a couple. This would cover the cost of:

  1. food and non-alcoholic drinks
  2. electricity and gas
  3. clothes and shoes
  4. communications (including phones and internet access)
  5. travel
  6. sundries (toiletries, cleaning materials etc)

Implementing an Essentials Guarantee would impact upon 8.8 million low income families across the UK, including 3.9 million who have children and over half of all working age families in the UK with a disabled family member.

To understand more about the Essentials Guarantee campaign, please visit the full report here.

As the MP for Lanark and Hamilton East, I am collecting data through a survey to understand how an Essentials Guarantee would make a difference to the lives of my constituents. If you are in receipt of benefits, or have something to say on the Essentials Guarantee, and live within Lanark and Hamilton East, please take five minutes to fill out the survey here.

If you have any questions regarding the survey, or any other matters, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by emailing, or call our office on 01698 200 065