Communications and campaigns manager
Policy, advocacy and rights
By Lizzie Flew
10 October 2021
Universal credit has been high in the headlines this week as the government cut it by £20 a week. We joined many others in strongly condemning this cut, knowing just how much pressure it will place on already-struggling families. Some have argued that the cut might harm the mental health of those affected, and parents have expressed this fear to us. The social security system should be a source of support for those experiencing mental health problems, rather than a cause of those problems. This World Mental Health Day, we are reflecting on how well the system provides that support.
15 July 2021
Families affected by the two-child limit, who now number 318,000, are struggling to get by. Some have told us they are having to cut back on essentials such as the quality and quantity of food, and replacing worn out clothing and shoes. This policy, which restricts support in universal credit and tax credits to two children, is driving up child poverty, and harming childhoods and life chances. 1.1 million children are now affected.
25 March 2021
“Babies and children in England will get a better start in life”. That’s the kind of opening line we’d hope for in a cross-governmental child poverty strategy. We know that poverty affects children’s ability to thrive, that children growing up in poverty do less well in school, and that poorer children are more likely to have poorer mental and physical health. Tackling poverty therefore has to be at the heart of the government’s plans. However, this is the introduction to the government’s review into reducing inequalities in the first 1,001 days of life in England. And addressing poverty barely gets a look in.
08 March 2021
This time last year the odds were already stacked against women. Women are more likely to be in insecure, low paid employment; women are more likely to be in poverty; and women carry out more unpaid work than men. It seemed certain the pandemic would make inequality more pronounced. But how have things panned out? Twelve months later we want to share the experiences of low-income women who are part of the Covid Realities project.
21 January 2021
The social security system is there for all of us. The pandemic has exposed how precarious our incomes are and how much we all need a social security system that prevents poverty, provides income security and promotes social solidarity. Whether or not we are out of work, in ‘insecure’ work, or have recently lost jobs, our current system is falling short on all fronts, but it can change.
21 August 2020
We have seen a significant government response to the financial hit many have faced because of the coronavirus – from the job retention scheme and self-employed income support scheme to the increase in universal credit (UC) and tax credits. While many families will have benefited from the stability and certainty these welcome interventions have given them, they have not been comprehensive. We are always most worried about the people who fall through the gaps.
01 May 2020
Another day, another set of appalling statistics to quantify the hardship people are suffering. This time they’re stats from the Trussell Trust and show an 81 per cent increase in people needing support from food banks at the end of March, compared with the same time last year, and a 120 per cent rise in parcels given to children.
10 December 2019
We look back over the past year at CPAG, from our campaigns and research to our legal work.
05 November 2019
Having a targeted safety net – or means-testing – can consistently miss the mark. While it’s supposed to target social security payments, it is not always the most effective way to reach the people we might define as ‘needing help most’. Perhaps counter-intuitively, more universal support, such as child benefit for families with children, or personal independence payment (PIP) for certain people with disabilities, may reach more of the target group, but simply and without stigma.
04 September 2019
The new school year is underway after the long summer break. This can be an expensive time for families. Most parents will have faced significant costs in recent weeks, from holiday childcare to new school uniforms. But to what extent are different families able to meet those costs? Every year for the past eight years, we have published research on what it costs to raise children from birth to age 18. This year the research coincides with the Spending Review, and puts a spotlight on how the government does support, and how it should support, families with the extra costs of children.
26 June 2019
This week we heard directly from some of the very many families affected by the two-child limit. Reading their stories has been profoundly moving. These are families trying to ensure their children thrive, hampered by an arbitrary policy that denies them the support they need from our social security system when they experience tough times.
01 May 2019
“It’s a fundamental principle in a democracy that governmental bodies must have reasons for their decisions… that they should be able to explain what those reasons are… [and any] decision should be open to review or appeal.” So begins our latest report, Computer says ‘No!’
28 March 2019
Every March the government releases raw data on poverty – called Households Below Average Income. Presented without government spin, we can look at the numerous tables and work out what these numbers – which look so benign on a spreadsheet – mean for actual children. Children growing up worried about money, missing out on things other kids take for granted, and taking the effects of poverty with them into adulthood. What can we learn from the stats this year?
11 January 2019
Universal credit needs fixing. That’s certainly not the first time we’ve said that, but today the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd MP seemed to agree. At a Jobcentre in south London we got our first glimpse of what changes she has planned to make the benefit work better for everyone. Meanwhile, a couple of miles away the High Court announced that we had won our universal credit assessment period case. What do these two things mean for people claiming universal credit?
19 December 2018
The United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston, completed his 10 day visit in November by concluding that the UK's high child poverty rate was “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one”.
10 December 2018
In our Christmas appeal this year we mentioned Helen*, who we met at our food bank project in Tower Hamlets. Our advice helped Helen and her family get the financial support they needed. But we shouldn’t have met Helen in those circumstances.
25 October 2018
The number of children living in poverty in the UK is now at 4.1 million and will reach over 5 million by 2021, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. And children who are in poverty are now living, on average, further below the poverty line than they did 10 years ago.
19 September 2018
The proposed new poverty measure released this week by the Social Metrics Commission showed that whether or not you’re in poverty is determined by your income and your costs: not having enough resources to meet your essential costs is a defining feature of poverty.
17 September 2018
Today, the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) has published the results of its research into a new way of measuring poverty. You may think that we already have a good way of measuring poverty, and that’s true, so what does this new offering from the SMC add?
20 August 2018
Politicians are always concerned about public opinion, and they often seek to shape it. But, despite their efforts, we know that public policy and public opinion do not always match, and two pieces of recent research illustrate this clearly.
08 August 2018
In the ‘simple’ world of universal credit, monthly assessment periods are the supposedly ‘neat’ way of judging what financial support families should get based on their earnings and circumstances.
It’s time to start listening: what the Department for Work and Pensions needs to learn about universal credit
12 July 2018
In the Commons last week, Work and Pensions ministers responded to concerns about universal credit by offering to look at individual constituency cases MPs were raising, where things might not be going quite right.
07 March 2018
Latest figures show that child poverty is rising. There are currently 4 million children living in poverty in the UK, and there are projected to be 5.1 million by 2021. While the government doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge this reality, most starkly illustrated by its refusal to discuss the impact of universal credit on child poverty, others are keen to find practical ways to address the problem.
31 August 2017
Joyce Materego has been director of finance and resources at CPAG since January 2016. We were delighted when she was recently named an Inspiring Financial Leader at the Charity Finance Group awards. We asked Joyce about life before CPAG, what drew her to our work, and what challenges lie ahead.
20 July 2017
Sue is part of Dole Animators – a group of people with experience of the social security system in the UK who work together to highlight the effects of welfare reform.
11 July 2017
We were delighted to learn last week that Tom Royston, a barrister who specialises in social welfare law, won the prestigious Legal Aid Newcomer Award at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards.
04 May 2017
We entered this general election campaign with child poverty at 4 million, projected to rise to 5.1 million by the end of the next parliament (assuming it’s a five-year term). The next government must get to grips with the underlying causes of poverty to make sure all children have a great start in life – and the opportunity to thrive. We have set out the practical steps politicians can take after 8 June to tackle child poverty.
03 April 2017
‘Fairness’ was the word Lord Freud used to justify the lowering of the benefit cap. But there is no fairness to be found in a policy that ignores assessed need, mostly affects people who can’t work to increase their income, and hits households with children in 93 per cent of cases.