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Budget 2021: Reinstating the £20 to universal credit

26 October 2021
Tomorrow, the chancellor will give his budget speech. Some of the key announcements have already been revealed. We know for example that the minimum wage will increase to £9.50 an hour for those aged 23 and over. While this is a welcome change, it fails to compensate for the £20 a week cut to universal credit which has hit both working families and those who cannot work.

Swings and roundabouts? Does the increase in the minimum wage make up for the universal credit cut?

26 October 2021
The government talks about increasing the minimum wage to ensure work pays. It also positions the increase to £9.50 an hour from April as making up for the cut to universal credit (UC). But to what extent will the increase help families reeling from the cut?

“Nothing in the pot” – the impact of the universal credit cut

06 October 2021
Recently I was asked: “How do I feel about the decision to cut universal credit? And what are you expecting to cut back on?” Here is my honest answer.

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.

Changing social security for the better

12 August 2021
In March 2021, parents and carers living on a low income met with parliamentarians over Zoom to mark a year of lockdown. At the meeting, facilitated as part of the Covid Realities research programme, parents set out what they believe needs to change if the future is to be a better one for all of us. 

Universal credit and work: the reality

21 July 2021
In attempting to justify the unjustifiable, namely the cut to universal credit that is due in October, secretary of state for work and pensions Thérèse Coffey said the government was: ‘shift[ing] the focus strongly on to getting people into work.’ But this is a cut that will affect millions of working families. The government has subjected our social security system to so many cuts and freezes that families desperately needed the £20 increase and it must stay, but universal credit’s very design still makes it hard for parents to escape poverty through work.

Universal credit and mental health

07 May 2021
There is no doubt that the past year has changed all of our lives in ways we could not have imagined - affecting our relationships, our finances and our mental health. For families living on a low income though, the daily stresses of getting by were unfortunately nothing new, and the pandemic has only made matters worse. Families have faced additional costs such as higher food and energy bills associated with staying at home more. New evidence shows that those in the greatest financial difficulty going into the pandemic are more likely to have reported mental health problems.

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”.

Budget 2021: delivering on debt deductions?

09 March 2021
Most of the attention in post-budget analysis of social security announcements rightly went to the government’s decision to extend the £20 uplift to universal credit (UC) by just six months. However, the budget also outlined changes to how the government reclaims advance payments made to UC claimants.

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.