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The problem with the ‘grace period’

21 September 2021
The number of families affected by the government’s benefit cap stood at 187,000 in May 2021. These families are living on less than what they need because they are not in work or not considered to be working enough. On average, they are losing out on £238 per month.

Not getting by: the increasing impact of the benefit cap

22 June 2021
Figures just released by the Department for Work and Pensions show that in February 2021, soon after the start of the third lockdown, 200,000 households were subject to the benefit cap. Behind this statistic are families having to get by on less than their assessed need because of the government’s decision to limit the amount of income any ‘non-working’ household can receive in social security. The pandemic has seen the number of capped households drastically increase, with the latest figures an increase of 153 per cent since February 2020, when 79,000 households were subject to the cap.

‘Other people don’t have to think about which kid they love the most that month’: the realities of everyday life on the benefit cap and two child limit

11 June 2021
Since April we’ve been interviewing larger families who are subject to the two child limit and/or benefit cap as part of the Benefit Changes and Larger Families project. We’ll be interviewing many more families over the next 18 months, but already after 11 interviews it is striking how much common ground there is in larger families’ experiences of negotiating life on a low-income.

Hitting home: the benefit cap and child homelessness

31 May 2021
Since 2013, the benefit cap has meant that many families don’t have enough money to pay their rent. This isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s explicit in the way that benefits are calculated.

Does the cap fit? Researching the benefit cap’s effect on paid work

30 March 2021
Official statistics released today show that the number of households subject to the benefit cap has increased again. 180,000 households were capped in November 2020, up from 170,000 in August 2020.

How can we improve social security? Let’s start by listening to families

24 March 2021
While some of us are counting down the days until the next stage of unlocking, eager to go out for a meal or go shopping, for many families living on a low income there is no end in sight. As one parent explained, the end of restrictions would mean going “from a viral lockdown to a financial lockdown”.

Security and solidarity in our social security system

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.

“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.

'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. 

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.