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. Our analysis shows that, unless the government reverses this devastating cut this week, it will pull 300,000 children into poverty.
Parents taking part in the Covid Realities research project, which has worked with families on a low income to document their experiences during the pandemic, have told us about the impact of the £20 cut:
“I’m so curtailed by being a single mum, an exhausted mum with no family help, and this drop in vital support (we needed it before) just as things are getting more expensive, has crushed me mentally." – Lois
“The £20 cut will have a long lasting impact on our children and on our own mental and physical wellbeing… Does society think it is ok that we celebrate foodbanks? Yes, they do a magnificent job in ensuring people are fed, but are there really no better alternatives? For example, giving people choice and autonomy, supporting them to pay off their debts, supporting them into gainful employment not just any employment.” – Caroline (read Caroline’s blog)
“I do my best as a parent to provide my children all they need, and even with the increase there are massive shortcomings in that. If my child's shoes break for instance I have to weigh up what I can miss a payment of, or what else I feel the family can do without until I can get new shoes for my child. This isn’t living, it’s barely surviving. It is already hard and draining, so to lose £86 a month on top of that is mental torture.”– Kim (read Kim’s blog)
We are urging the chancellor to do what’s right tomorrow and reinstate the £20 a week to universal credit. The government should also urgently take action to restore the value of children’s benefits, boost help with childcare costs and widen eligibility for free school meals to support struggling families this winter.
Note: The Covid Realities project has been funded by the Nuffield Foundation, but the views expressed are those of the author's and not necessarily the Foundation. Visit https://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/