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In Response To The Chancellor’s Spring Statement Last Week

In response to the Chancellor’s spring statement last week.

Last week’s Spring Statement by the Chancellor was an opportunity for the government to do more to help the poorest families struggling as the cost-of-living crisis soars.

Islamic Relief had been calling on the government to delay the increase in the rate of National Insurance and reinstate the £20 uplift to Universal Credit. We asked the government to help families that are choosing between energy bills and food, but this went unheard and the harsh reality of people living in poverty continues to rise.

We are now calling on the government to bring benefit payments in line with the soaring rates of inflation to help those most in need. Our UK charity partners have been highlighting the increased need that they’re seeing through their distributions, and we know that government action is needed now to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

The situation on the ground is worrying and our assessment of the current situation facing Muslims is based on data from a number of sources, including the Muslim Census, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Muslim Council of Britain and the National Zakat Foundation.

According to figures from the Muslim Census we know that at least 50% of Muslims are living in poverty as of September 2020. The report found that Muslims have been pushed into poverty at a rate 10 times higher than the national average.

The Muslim Council of Britain first published a report in 2016, showing that half of Muslims living in the UK live in poverty. This was measured by looking at household incomes in the UK.  At the time of the report, there were about 750,000 Muslim households and in 50% of these the weekly income was less than £270. Add to this 46% (1.22 million) of the Muslim population in England living in the 10% most deprived Local Authority Districts and we see a stark reality.

This economic situation has further worsened as a result of the pandemic over the last two years. According to recent figures by the Legatum Institute, a further 700,000 people were plunged into poverty during the pandemic, taking the figure to more than 15 million across the UK.

We have seen the reality first hand on the ground through our UK partners, who are reporting a significant increase in the use of food banks, increased requests for support compared to the last two lockdowns and the cost of living affecting families who will be significantly worse off this year.

According to Islamic Relief UK partner, Give a Gift, many parents will have little or no food to break their fasts during Ramadan, just so their children can eat.

Requests for help to another of our partners, the National Zakat Foundation (NZF), have soared by 70% over the last twelve months.

Islamic Relief UK is working with Mosques such as Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham, who have seen increasing numbers of users to their food bank during the pandemic. Masjid Al Falah in the same city saw a 30 per cent rise in households they are having to provide food to in just six weeks earlier this year.

Services that were available during the first two lockdowns have been temporarily stopped or closed, further fuelling the crisis.

We must always remember that each of these statistics represent a suffering family or individual struggling to make ends meet. People like one mother who recently called our partner, Newham Community Project, saying her child needed a top up of formula milk and was crying the entire day. She could not afford to buy this and was hesitant to ask for help out of shame.

Or a mother who has a three-year-old with a life limiting condition who needs 24-hour care, trying to survive on just £5 a day. Our partner, Give a Gift were able to give her some support to get food and help.

We know that many people in difficult situations are reluctant to ask for the help they need. One man who was in urgent need was able to seek shelter with a friend but was too embarrassed to ask for the food he needed. Our partners, Give a Gift were able to provide him with a food pack, new bedding, and vouchers to purchase clothing.

These are just a few examples, but there are countless people in this situation who are struggling and will need more assistance.

Islamic Relief work across the world to help those who are hungry in countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia and now it seems we are looking more inwards to the UK as we experience a hunger crisis on our very own doorstep.

There will be many families struggling this Ramadan, and through our work with our UK charity partners we want to help as many people as we can, but we are also calling on the UK government to do everything they can to help.

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