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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.

Women in the pandemic: experiences from Covid Realities

08 March 2021
This time last year the odds were already stacked against women. Women are more likely to be in insecure, low paid employment; women are more likely to be in poverty; and women carry out more unpaid work than men. It seemed certain the pandemic would make inequality more pronounced. But how have things panned out? Twelve months later we want to share the experiences of low-income women who are part of the Covid Realities project.

Educational outcomes without secure incomes

17 February 2021
Today, the departing Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, posed an important question in her final speech. She asked how the government can claim to be focused on educational catch-up on the one hand, while at the same time refusing to give families income security and risking more children being pushed into poverty. This is a crucial point. Poverty at home is the strongest statistical predictor of how well a child will do in school.

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.

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.

'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. 

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.