Children's benefits and cost of living | CPAG

Children's benefits and cost of living

We know from our Cost of a Child research that even when two parents work full time on the minimum wage, a family will be £47 a week short of the income they need to meet the basic costs of raising a child. 70 per cent of poor children live in working families.

Poverty restricts children’s opportunities, and can mean that they are left behind. We need investment in children to ensure they are released from the grip of poverty. This means taking action now to:

  • restore the child element in universal credit, including the higher element for first children, and increase child benefit by at least £5 a week because it has lost 23% of its value since 2010;
  • lift the two-child limit, which will otherwise push 300,000 children into poverty and one million more into deeper poverty by 2023/24;
  • remove the benefit cap, which largely affects lone parents with young children who are least able to escape the cap through work.

Briefings

CPAG's submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review

Our submission to the government's forthcoming spending review focusses on strengthening the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19 by prioritising jobs and skills; levelling up struggling families – helping children maximise their potential; and ensuring every young person receives a superb education.

Supporting families during the Covid-19 pandemic

The government has acted quickly to protect people’s economic livelihoods during the covid-19 pandemic. However, as raised in our previous Covid-19 briefing (March 2020), there is still no additional financial support beyond free school meal vouchers for families with children, despite these households facing significant extra costs.

Mind the gaps - briefing 1

This is the first in a series of weekly briefings, Mind the Gaps, which highlight some of the gaps in support that exist for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Evidence of these gaps is drawn from our Early Warning System (EWS) which collects case studies from frontline practitioners working directly with families on the problems they are seeing with the social security system.

Reports

Poverty in the pandemic: The impact of coronavirus on low-income families and children

Coronavirus has turned the lives of families with children upside down. Many parents have lost jobs or been furloughed and many schools and childcare facilities have largely been closed, leaving those still in work facing the impossible task of balancing work with childcare and home schooling. These challenges are particularly acute for low-income families. This new report from CPAG and the Church of England offers an important insight into the day-to-day struggles that families have been dealing with, as well as their strength and resilience in managing such an array of challenges on a limited income.

The Cost of Learning in Lockdown: family experiences of school closures

To understand how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted children’s experience of learning, we conducted some research through surveys and interviews. We gathered the experiences of 3,600 parents and carers, along with 1,300 children and young people, with an emphasis on the experiences of low-income households. We found that the cost burdens of school closures have fallen most heavily on families already living on a low income.

No one knows what the future can hold

CPAG and the Church of England has produced a new report on the impact of the two-child limit after three years. Since 6 April 2017, families having a third or subsequent child are no longer entitled to additional support through child tax credit and universal credit.

News

Legal update

10 February 2020
Our legal team has had a busy start to the new year. Last week we learned we had been successful in our High Court case challenging the fact that the higher rate of bereavement support payment for families with children is currently only paid if a spouse or civil partner dies, and not when the couple were not married or in a civil partnership. This follows a similar challenge to the previous widowed parent’s allowance – the Supreme Court found in favour of a mother and her four children in that case, but, although the law is not compatible with human rights law, the government has still not resolved the issue.

The Cost of a Child in 2019

04 September 2019
The latest report in our annual Cost of a Child series finds that the overall cost of a child up to age 18 (including rent and childcare) is £185,000 for lone parents (up 19% since 2012) and £151,000 for couples (up 5.5% since 2012). The gap between lone parents’ actual income and what they need to meet family needs has grown sharply.

Lone parents aim for Supreme Court in ongoing legal challenge against the ‘two-child limit’ in tax credits and universal credit

16 April 2019
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on behalf of two lone mothers with children affected by the two-child limit.

Blogs

Learning after lockdown: school bells herald extra costs

03 September 2020
This week, schools in England will open their doors to their full school community for the first time in almost six months. We know that families with children have been hardest hit by the economic effects of the pandemic, with 2 in 5 facing financial difficulty, and that the lowest paid have been most badly affected. In this perfect storm of a difficult lockdown and worsening household finances, there needs to be much more focus on family income as children return to school.  

Mind the Gaps: Social security during the pandemic

21 August 2020
We have seen a significant government response to the financial hit many have faced because of the coronavirus – from the job retention scheme and self-employed income support scheme to the increase in universal credit (UC) and tax credits. While many families will have benefited from the stability and certainty these welcome interventions have given them, they have not been comprehensive. We are always most worried about the people who fall through the gaps.

Don’t Zap the Zip: campaign update

10 August 2020
The government has announced that it is pushing back the ‘temporary’ suspension of free travel for under 18s in London to after the October half term holidays, instead of bringing it in at the start of the academic year in September, as originally planned. Find out what CPAG thinks about this announcement.