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Number of children living in households receiving Universal Credit increases to 3.8 million

London, 17 May 2022 – 3.8 million children are now living in households receiving Universal Credit (UC), according to new statistics published by the Department for Work and Pensions today (Tuesday).  

Save the Children is warning that these children could be suffering the effects of the cost-of-living crisis because the government has failed to increase benefits in line with the rate at which prices are rising. 

Inflation is currently running at 7%, and projected to hit 10% in the autumn, but UC was uprated by just 3.1% last month. This significant real-terms cut to families’ incomes comes on top of last year’s £20-a-week cut to UC.

The Department for Work and Pensions quarterly UC statistics show that:  

·       3.8 million children in 2 million households with children were receiving UC as of February 2022, up from 3.6 million children in 1.9 million households in November 2021

·       Of these, 44% had a child aged 0-4 (897,000 families) and 31% had a youngest child aged 5-10 – meaning that, in total, three quarters of families with children on UC had a child of primary school age or younger.    

·       72% of families with children on UC – more than 1.4 million households – are single-parent families.

Commenting on the statistics, Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact at Save the Children, said:  "Universal Credit is the most powerful tool the government has to tackle the cost-of-living emergency. These statistics demonstrate that by increasing social security to match inflation, ministers could make an immediate difference to millions of the children most affected by the crisis."

“But so far, they’ve failed to step up and support families and children are paying the price."

"Families we work with tell us they’re already struggling with the high costs of childcare and are now finding it hard to put petrol in the car and buy food. Some parents are skipping their own meals to put their children first, and within the home it's a constant battle to try and save electricity. 

“While parents do all they can to shield their children from the effects, we know there are children who are missing out on sports or after-school clubs because money is tight or even falling behind at school because they’re hungry. 

“This can't continue. The government must increase Universal Credit in-line with inflation to help hard-pressed families to get through the cost of living crisis."


·       Figures on Universal Credit cover England, Scotland and Wales and are available on Stat-Xplore: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/jsf/tableView/tableView.xhtml  


Media team media@savethechildren.org.uk, +44 (0) 2070126841