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“My rent alone takes up 95% of the benefits I receive, but my family are stuck here... until we’re made homeless.” Challenging poverty in a time of COVID

22 December 2020
I am a widow and solo parent, who lost my husband, leaving two young children. I have been affected by multiple changes to the benefits system. I’m both affected by the benefit cap (which limits how much I can receive, irrespective of my family’s needs) and penalised for having an extra bedroom. My rent alone takes up 95% of the benefits I receive, but my family are stuck here in high rent accommodation until we’re made homeless. Because of the benefit cap, I’m not eligible for the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit – a one-year increase intended to help people at their time of greatest need, during the pandemic.

Access to justice, one step at a time: Part 2

17 November 2020
Part 1 set out our approach at CPAG to access to justice in the social security field, namely ensuring: access to information, access to advice and assistance, and access to mechanisms for challenging unlawful decisions. Continuing with the last of these steps, the normal route for challenging a social security decision is by appealing it to a tribunal. Sometimes though, the appeal route is not available or, while available in principle, is not effective. In those situations, the route of legal challenge is judicial review.

Furthering access to justice, one step at a time: Part 1

17 November 2020
The ‘rule of law’ and ‘access to justice’ are concepts that are seen as fundamental to the proper functioning of a healthy, democratic society. The rule of law becomes perilously fragile if ordinary people are unable to hold public bodies to account.

Don't Zap the Zip

28 October 2020
The #DontZapTheZip campaign is calling on the government to keep London transport free for under 18s. Olivia Faria, a Year 13 student from Croydon, and Joshua Brown-Smith, chair of young advisors at Lewisham Council, are campaign leaders.

'We honestly didn’t know how to survive'

18 September 2020
My name is David. I'm married with three children. I have worked several minimum wage jobs from care worker roles to handyman of a restaurant chain (I am now furloughed). I’ve had ongoing mental health problems and although I'm still medicating I feel I have beaten depression largely and my anxiety is more manageable. I am right now affected by the two-child limit and benefit cap - this alongside a stressful transition to universal credit has caused much stress to both my wife and me, putting a strain on our relationship, generally leaving us wondering how we are going to survive at times. 

Learning after lockdown: school bells herald extra costs

03 September 2020
This week, schools in England will open their doors to their full school community for the first time in almost six months. We know that families with children have been hardest hit by the economic effects of the pandemic, with 2 in 5 facing financial difficulty, and that the lowest paid have been most badly affected. In this perfect storm of a difficult lockdown and worsening household finances, there needs to be much more focus on family income as children return to school.  

Algorithms in social security: cause for concern?

28 August 2020
Two weeks ago pupils, parents and schools were up in arms when the news broke that 40 per cent of teacher-assessed A level results had been downgraded by at least one grade. The culprit? A computer, or to be precise, an algorithm. This episode clearly shows the chaos that can be caused to people’s lives when the technology that so many parts of public services now rely on goes wrong.

Mind the Gaps: Social security during the pandemic

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.

Don’t Zap the Zip: campaign update

10 August 2020
The government has announced that it is pushing back the ‘temporary’ suspension of free travel for under 18s in London to after the October half term holidays, instead of bringing it in at the start of the academic year in September, as originally planned. Find out what CPAG thinks about this announcement.