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

Supporting families during the COVID-19 pandemic

CPAG welcomes steps that have been taken so far to support low-income people, but much more needs to be done to support families in this time of national crisis.

Child poverty and child benefits in Europe

Families are inevitably at greater risk of poverty than other households because there are more people to maintain on a given income. Our societies have developed social policies to help families with children in the tasks of child rearing. This briefing explores child poverty and child benefit policy in different European countries, to see whether we can learn lessons from the social policies of others.

Reports

The Cost of a Child in 2019

Our annual Cost of a Child report this year 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 working full time for the so-called national living wage ('NLW') are 21% (£80 a week) short of what they need – after paying for rent, childcare and council tax - a gap that has more than doubled from 10% since 2012.

Early Warning System report on universal credit and childcare costs

Financial support to low income families to pay for childcare through working tax credits is being replaced by the childcare element of universal credit. This Early Warning System report examines the impact of this change on parents and childcare providers.

All Kids Count: The impact of the two-child limit after two years

CPAG, the Church of England, Women's Aid, Turn2Us and the Refugee Council have published a new report looking at the impact of the two-child limit. An estimated 160,000 families have already been affected by the two-child limit to date; the majority are working families and the majority have just three children. More than 800,000 families and three million children could eventually be affected by it, while a third of all children will be affected in many constituencies across the country.

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

Poor children need a Coronavirus bonus

26 March 2020
The increase to the universal credit (UC) standard allowance and the working tax credit basic element by £20 per week as part of the government’s response to the Coronavirus is welcome. According to the Resolution Foundation[1] “Having recently fallen to their lowest real-terms value since the early 1990s, the main adult rate of unemployment benefits is now at its highest ever level, as the chart below shows. Relative to average earnings, it is at its highest level since 1998-99

Income security for families with children

01 November 2019
Low-income families are faced with ongoing challenges in budgeting and balancing the regular costs of living with meeting the need for more occasional and one-off items. But it is not just expenditure that is ‘lumpy’ in this way. Income can also come into households at different times and in different amounts. Research with families looking in depth at money management highlights something of a paradox in the juggling of low income.

Costs and spending on decent childhoods

04 September 2019
The new school year is underway after the long summer break. This can be an expensive time for families. Most parents will have faced significant costs in recent weeks, from holiday childcare to new school uniforms. But to what extent are different families able to meet those costs? Every year for the past eight years, we have published research on what it costs to raise children from birth to age 18. This year the research coincides with the Spending Review, and puts a spotlight on how the government does support, and how it should support, families with the extra costs of children.