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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.

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.

Making the links: Poverty, austerity and children’s social care

05 August 2020
What effect have poverty and austerity had on children and families? Earlier this year Child Poverty Action Group, Association of Directors of Children’s Services and researchers from the Child Welfare Inequalities Project surveyed social workers on the frontline, and the report of what they told us – out this week - makes for sobering reading.

The two-child limit now affects almost one million children – and it is being implemented when poverty is rising for larger families

16 July 2020
This week, the UK Government published its annual statistics on the number of households affected by the two-child limit policy, which restricts support through tax credits and universal credit to the first two children in a family. Its reach is growing steadily over time. The new figures show that 911,000 children now live in affected households. The majority (59 per cent) of those households contain three children.

Has the government forgotten children during Covid-19?

21 May 2020
The government’s economic response to Covid-19 has, in many ways, been expansive, but there has been a surprising blind spot in relation to the burdens faced by families with children.

Increasing child benefit: five tests, five ticks?

14 May 2020
Now is the time for some clear thinking about our systems of social security and social protection. With millions of people claiming support through universal credit, the importance of a functioning and adequate social security system is obvious. Getting support to people as quickly as possible has understandably been a priority. But we should also be looking to the future, to ensure that we build a resilient system with popular support.