We all rely on publicly-funded services like education, roads and the NHS. Our social security system is there for us all – and most of us will call on it at various times in our life. It’s there to help families meet their basic needs, to get on in life, and to loosen poverty’s grip and help families escape from poverty. Universal credit was designed to reduce child poverty, but cuts mean it will actually increase it. We're campaigning on all fronts to make universal credit fit for families.
What have we done so far?
We successfully campaigned for increases to the work allowance in 2018.
We have also campaigned on the long wait – initially people had to wait six weeks for their first payment of universal credit. In the November 2017 budget the Chancellor announced that the wait would now effectively be five weeks, and there will be more help with advance payments. But this is not enough: we've joined the Trussell Trust's Five weeks too long campaign to end the wait.
What parts of Universal Credit need to change?
The government needs to make significant design and funding changes to improve claimants’ experience of universal credit and to reduce child poverty.
- A modest package of re-investment in children’s benefits would lift 700,000 children out of poverty by 2023, when universal credit will be fully rolled out, and increase family income by an average of £1,000 per year.
- Restoring both the child element in universal credit and child benefit to their 2013/14 value would mean 200,000 fewer children in poverty.
- 300,000 fewer children would be in poverty if the two-child limit in universal credit were scrapped.
- 400,000 out of 500,000 children in families affected by the benefit cap are living so far below the poverty line that even lifting the cap would not be sufficient for them to escape poverty, although it would increase their income. Removing the benefit cap would however move 100,000 children out of deeper poverty (measured as living below 50% of median income). Fewer than 50,000 would escape poverty altogether if the cap were lifted as their incomes are so far below the poverty line.
- Restoring all working-age benefits to their value in 2015-16 - when a four-year freeze began - would move 200,000 children out of poverty.
Read more in our report, Universal credit: what needs to change.
Our campaigning work is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation