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

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.

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.

Reports

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.

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.

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

Increasing child benefit: five tests, five ticks?

14 May 2020
Now is the time for some clear thinking about our systems of social security and social protection. With millions of people claiming support through universal credit, the importance of a functioning and adequate social security system is obvious. Getting support to people as quickly as possible has understandably been a priority. But we should also be looking to the future, to ensure that we build a resilient system with popular support.

Families hit harder because nothing for children in Covid-19 response

12 May 2020
Covid-19 has clearly had a massive impact on household incomes in the UK. Millions of people have lost their job and millions more have been furloughed. It will take a while to understand the complete effect of Covid on household incomes but some initial quantitative findings can help shed light on the effect of the pandemic on families.

Supporting children through the pandemic: why we need a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme

01 May 2020
Another day, another set of appalling statistics to quantify the hardship people are suffering. This time they’re stats from the Trussell Trust and show an 81 per cent increase in people needing support from food banks at the end of March, compared with the same time last year, and a 120 per cent rise in parcels given to children.