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Universal Credit cut will affect a child every second over the next month 

  • Charity warns families are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of falling income and rising costs as £20 increase is removed

The £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit which takes effect today (Wednesday) will impact the equivalent of a child every second over the next month, Save the Children has warned.   

Between now and early November, nearly six million households in receipt of Universal Credit will see their payments reduced as the increase – worth £87 a month or £1,040 a year – is removed.   

Government statistics show that there are 3.5 million children living in 1.9 million of these households, and three-quarters of families with children on UC had a child of primary school age or younger. Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that 200,000 more children will be pushed into poverty as a result of the cut. 

According to Save the Children research, nearly half of Universal Credit claimants don’t think they’ll be able to live on the reduced amount. And affected parents have warned that it will be more difficult to afford essentials like food, fuel and clothes for their children. Many expect to fall into debt just to cover essentials like bills and rent. And others warn they’ll have to choose between heating and eating this winter. 

Rebecca, 36, is a single working parent and campaigner on Universal Credit, who is concerned the cut will mean she will struggle to feed her eight-year-old daughter. She said: 

I’m already feeling the pinch and the cut hasn’t even happened yet. The winter is already a really difficult time. We’ve got winter clothes to consider. Energy bills are going up and I can’t have a child freezing cold. So we're going to have to cut back on food. We will have to resort to food banks and have the heater on less. It puts a strain on my daughter as she knows that we’re poor. That’s horrible, a child shouldn’t be worrying about money. It’s down to pennies. What can I afford with a couple of pounds this week? That’s what we’re talking about.” 

“What £20 means to families like mine is being able to afford proper healthy food – not just cheap processed food. It means having the heater on for two hours a day so we’re not freezing. This cut is going to be devastating for families such as ours.” 

Gwen Hines, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said: 

"The UK government’s decision to go ahead with this cut will devastate families up and down the country. Over the next month, every second that passes will see another child pushed towards poverty. 

“People we work with tell us they’ve been relying on this £20 lifeline to buy essentials like food and clothing for themselves and their children. Without it, tens of thousands more children are facing a cold and hungry winter. And we know the impacts of childhood poverty can last a lifetime. 

“It’s astonishing that ministers have chosen to inflict the most significant social security cut in memory at the same time that families are grappling with a cost-of-living crisis. Inflation, increases in energy prices, fuel shortages and tax hikes are all taking their toll on family finances. For many, this will be a perfect storm of falling income and rising costs. 

“Government must change course. In his budget announcement later this month, the chancellor should reinstate the £20 lifeline. Children’s futures are depending on it.”  



  • Just over 3.5 million children in the UK live in households receiving Universal Credit. Figures for England, Scotland and Wales are available from Stat-Xplore; figures for Northern Ireland were provided on request by the Department for Communities, household statistics on Universal Credit are available at: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/articles/universal-credit-statistics.   
  • Households receive their Universal Credit payments on different days of the month, so the cut will be staggered over a period of 31 days, rather than felt by all households at the same time. On that basis an average of 1.3 children will be affected every second over the month, which amounts to 2.67 million seconds  
  • Opinium conducted an online survey of 1,008 adults who claim Universal Credit across the UK, which showed the 47% said they wouldn’t be able to live on the reduced amount. Fieldwork was conducted from 2nd-11th August. The data has been weighted to be representative by age, UK nation, household type and gender. Full details: https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/news/media-centre/press- releases/universal-credit-almost-half-cant-live-on-20-less  
  • There are almost 6 million people in receipt of Universal Credit across the UK, 38% of whom are in work. (Source: DWP figures available on Stat-Xplore: The DWP’s Universal Credit statistics are available on the DWP’s Stat-Xplore website here.)   
  • Footage and images of Rebecca available on request. 
  • Save the Children has spokespeople available for interview. Please contact: media@savethechildren.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 012 6841 / 07831 650409 (24 hrs).