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Documenting life on a low income this winter

10 December 2021
Between July 2020 and July 2021, we worked together to document life on a low income during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through the Covid Realities research programme, over 100 parents and carers kept online diaries about what everyday life was like, and took part in online discussion groups to explore what needs to change and why. As a participant (Kim) and a researcher (Ruth) working together on this project, we wanted so share our reflections.

£20 cut leaves black hole in families’ finances

09 December 2021
Just over a month ago, the government went ahead with the decision to cut millions of parents’ universal credit by £20 a week. There was a loud public outcry against this devastating cut, which we warned would pull 300,000 more children into poverty. Evidence is now emerging about how it is affecting families who were already struggling to keep their heads above water.

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?

Poverty and mental health: causes and effects 

10 October 2021
Universal credit has been high in the headlines this week as the government cut it by £20 a week. We joined many others in strongly condemning this cut, knowing just how much pressure it will place on already-struggling families. Some have argued that the cut might harm the mental health of those affected, and parents have expressed this fear to us. The social security system should be a source of support for those experiencing mental health problems, rather than a cause of those problems. This World Mental Health Day, we are reflecting on how well the system provides that support.

“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.

Time for Lunch: why children in poverty are currently denied free school meals

03 September 2021
For children living in poverty, school should be a place where they can access learning and essential opportunities in the same way as their peers. Free school meals should be available so children can eat during their school day without any worry and parents have one less thing to think about. That way, children can focus on learning, playing and fully participating in their education. Unfortunately, for more than a third of children in poverty in the UK, access to a free daily meal at school is denied.

A UC sink hole – the minimum income floor returns

30 July 2021
Last October, Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis tweeted a warning about the ‘huge sink hole awaiting many self-employed’ people when the suspension of universal credit’s minimum income floor ended. While the government extended the suspension, it now ends this week. Self-employed workers up and down the country will start to be affected (with some possible concessions) after 31 July, and may face huge financial difficulties as a result.   

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.

“We feel like we're slowly sinking.”

15 July 2021
Families affected by the two-child limit, who now number 318,000, are struggling to get by. Some have told us they are having to cut back on essentials such as the quality and quantity of food, and replacing worn out clothing and shoes. This policy, which restricts support in universal credit and tax credits to two children, is driving up child poverty, and harming childhoods and life chances. 1.1 million children are now affected.