Summary of our recommendations:
- Invest in children by increasing social security benefits – reducing child poverty immediately and leading to higher long-term economic growth, as well as improved education and health outcomes, including life expectancy.
- Over time, benefit freezes, sub-inflationary upratings, and other harmful policies have increased the gap between entitlement and need. To stop this gap getting any wider and child poverty rising above the current 4.2 million, social security benefits need to be uprated in April 2024 by, at least, September 2023 CPI.
- This is just a minimum though – to reduce child poverty and boost long-term economic growth further, investment in children is needed. Scrapping the two-child limit and removing the benefit cap would make the most difference to children living in poverty. While raising child benefit by £20 a week and rolling out universal free school meals across England would also support pupils’ learning and attainment, and reduce the pressure on household budgets for more families.
- Families should be supported into work and at work through tailored employment support, a second earner work allowance in universal credit and universal childcare.