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Over 400,000 more families with children forced to rely on Universal Credit since Covid crisis hit

11th August 2020 | Save the Children

For a parent relying on Universal Credit, every day can be a struggle to keep your head above water. Parents reeling from the effects of the pandemic tell us they’re having to make impossible choices"

  • Inadequate safety nets threaten millions of children's futures, warns Save the Children

The number of families with children claiming Universal Credit increased by a third as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic took hold, new government figures reveal. Over 400,000 more families with children started claiming Universal Credit during April and May.

In a recent survey by Save the Children and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, seven in ten low income parents said they didn’t have enough money to cover food and essential items, with six in ten saying they have been forced to borrow money since the start of the crisis.

Save the Children is warning that, without urgent government action to protect struggling families and their children, the country faces an acute increase in child poverty.

The charity is calling for a £20-a-week boost to the child element of Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit to protect children from the long-term impacts of the pandemic. Modelling by JRF shows that this would help to support 8 million children.

Kayte Lawton, Head of Partnerships and Impact at Save the Children, said:

For a parent relying on Universal Credit, every day can be a struggle to keep your head above water. Parents reeling from the effects of the pandemic tell us they’re having to make impossible choices - cutting back on food and other essentials, struggling to buy school supplies, or borrowing money from payday lenders or on credit cards to get by.

“The government has put measures in place to help the economy ‘bounce back’ from this crisis, but they haven’t done enough to help struggling families and most children can’t ‘bounce back’ from growing up in poverty because the impacts are life-long.

“Even before the crisis, our country’s safety net was failing too many children. Now there is a danger that even more families will fall through the net – and it is children who will pay the price, possibly for the rest of their lives.

Providing an urgent, £20-a-week boost to the child element of Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit could help millions of families make ends meet, and protect a generation of children from being held back in the years to come.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

·         Figures on the numbers of UC claimants with children were released by the Department for Work and Pensions this morning and are available on the DWP's Stat-Xplore website: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/jsf/login. 414,250 families with children started claiming UC during April and May 2020.

·         Among families with children, the biggest increase was among couples. The number of couples with children on UC almost doubled.

·         Survey data is from a survey commissioned by Save the Children and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Opinium conducted a survey of 3,105 parents of children under 18, claiming either Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit for Save the Children during late May and early June 2020.

·         Figures showing the number of families and children who would be helped by the proposed uplift to the child element of Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit are drawn from analysis carried out by JRF and using a model devised by IPP.

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