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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.

Poor children need a Coronavirus bonus

26 March 2020
The increase to the universal credit (UC) standard allowance and the working tax credit basic element by £20 per week as part of the government’s response to the Coronavirus is welcome. According to the Resolution Foundation[1] “Having recently fallen to their lowest real-terms value since the early 1990s, the main adult rate of unemployment benefits is now at its highest ever level, as the chart below shows. Relative to average earnings, it is at its highest level since 1998-99

Is food the right response to child hunger?

13 January 2020
A Mori poll for the Trussell Trust, published on 16 October in the Daily Mirror, showed more than half the British public think food banks are an embarrassment to this country and 7 in 10 think they should not exist in a modern society. They think it’s the government’s responsibility to deal with it. They are right. More people than ever, 21%, say ‘poverty and inequality’ is the most important issue facing Britain - the highest rate since 1997.

Why give money to people who ‘don’t need it’? The case against intensive means-testing

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.

Costs and spending on decent childhoods

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.

The ‘Other Britain’

12 July 2019
A little over a century ago, the cry among social reformers concerned about the plight of the poor was for a safety net to be stitched together by the state, to catch any of our fellow citizens who were falling into the clutches of destitution. Had those same reformers witnessed what we have picked up during the past six months – from visits to food banks in Poplar, Waterloo, Leicester, Morecambe, Chester, and Glasgow – they would be appalled by the extent of hunger, homelessness, and insecurity afflicting so many families and vulnerable individuals in our country.