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Four in five people feel Government is failing to tackle child poverty

New survey finds that less than one in five people feel the UK Government is doing enough to tackle child poverty as advisory body finds Universal Credit payments set to be worth less than in 2013.


Four in five people feel Government is failing to tackle child poverty

Only 19% of the British public believe that the UK Government is currently doing all it reasonably can to tackle child poverty, a new report by the End Child Poverty coalition has found.

The survey of over 1600 people found that the majority of the public (55%), including almost a third of (30%) Conservative voters, feel the Government has not done enough to tackle child poverty.

The research also highlights that working class respondents are extremely concerned about the perceived lack of action to tackle child poverty, with half of C2DE respondents feeling that the Government is not doing enough.

The End Child Poverty coalition is comprised of more than 70 organisations, charities, unions and faith groups campaigning for action to tackle child poverty in the UK.

The coalition also continued the pressure the Government to ensure that the £20 a week increase to Universal Credit becomes permanent, as well expanding it to other legacy benefits, and to commit to a new strategy for ending child poverty.

Anna Feuchtwang, Chair of the End Child Poverty coalition and Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said the findings showed “a vote of no confidence” in the Government’s ‘levelling up’ initiative and called for more “ambitious and bold policymaking” to help support children and families across the country.

“There is a clear consensus across the country that the government is not doing enough to tackle child poverty. Ministers should be worried why so few people believe the government is doing what it should be doing on child poverty,” said Feuchtwang.

“We know what a good childhood looks like. It’s one in which children have enough to eat, somewhere safe and comfortable to sleep, with the chance to fully participate in society and pursue the things they love. And yet we know that for many children poverty holds them back, creating shame, stigma and ruining their life chances.”

The survey comes alongside a research report from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) that warns that Universal Credit payments would be worth less than those in 2013 due to rises in inflation, if the £20 increase is removed by the Government in the upcoming Budget.

The uplift to Universal Credit, worth over £1000 a year, was introduced by the UK Government last spring to provide additional financial support to those most in need during the pandemic.

In January, a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that millions more people would be at risk from falling into poverty if the Government proceeded with its plans to remove the uplift from April.

Read the full story on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation here

Now, the research by CAS has found that the £20 a week uplift had only returned Universal Credit to its real-terms value in 2013, as a freeze on benefit rates between 2015 and 2019 means that Universal Credit has fallen behind the rate of inflation.

If the £20 uplift is removed as planned, the value of Universal Credit would be worth less than 90% of its comparative value from Universal Credit’s introduction in 2013, says the report.

With the £20 a week uplift in place, a couple under 25 would currently receive £488.59 per month which is currently above the amount of £454.06 needed to remain in line with inflation, according to the research.

However, the report found that if the current Government current plans to remove the increase remain in place, then that amount the couple would receive would drop by around 17% to £403.93 per month, just over 10% below the projected amount of £456.33 needed to match inflation rates.

Single claimants under 25, including those with children, would be set to lose around a quarter of their income each month if the Government proceeds to remove the additional support in April, says the report.

CAS spokesperson Nina Ballantyne said that the numbers of people claiming Universal Credit were higher than ever and urged the Government to keep the £20 uplift in place to protect children and families from falling into further financial issues.

“The pandemic has caused redundancy and reduced hours, and this looks set to continue for much of the year. Now is the time to strengthen the safety net for these families, not cut it.

“Universal Credit has always failed to keep up with the cost of living, and it makes no sense to make cuts during a pandemic. Without proper support, we’ll see increases in poverty and foodbank use, and a strain on other public services like the NHS.

“The £20 uplift has been an essential boost to struggling families. The reasons it was introduced still exist, so there is no logical case for removing it. Taking it away now would be a real blow to our most vulnerable people, just when they need the most help.

“The Government still has the opportunity to make the uplift permanent in the Budget. This would give people some peace of mind, and we once again urge the Chancellor to make this commitment.”

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