Call it a lost decade for tens of thousands of British Columbians.

On April 1, 2007, welfare rates were last increased. Since then, a single person on basic income assistance has received $610 per month for all expenses, including housing. A single parent with one child has received $946 a month.

Each year, inflation has eroded the real value of a welfare cheque. While MLAs receive an automatic annual salary increase, the poorest British Columbians and their families have spent a decade falling farther behind, living on welfare benefits frozen at rates that were inadequate a decade ago.

There were hopes for an increase in this year’s budget, given the surplus and promises the B.C. government would share the benefits after years of belt-tightening.

But the government said no, and offered the lamest of excuses.