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Wed, 21 October 2020

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A £20 a week increase in social security support will give families with children the lifeline they need

A £20 a week increase in social security support will give families with children the lifeline they need

Parents with children who were caught in poverty pre-crisis are around 50% more likely to have lost their jobs than parents who were better off, says Ian Blackford MP | Credit: PA Images

3 min read

An extra £20 a week can help to stop families having to make the choice between paying their bills or feeding their children. It is a question of helping people survive.

When Marcus Rashford successfully campaigned for the continuation of free school meals throughout the summer, he was showing more moral leadership on tackling poverty in a matter of days than this Tory government has in the past decade of cuts. And as the footballer made clear, “people are struggling all year round” and more needs to be done.

This week I called on Boris Johnson to provide an extra £20 a week on social security support to prevent millions of families from having to make the choice between paying their bills or feeding their children. 

A decade of Tory austerity has meant many families barely get by and the onset of this health crisis means they are facing new challenges. 

Research carried out but the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Save the Children has shown the shocking ways in which Covid-19 is hit people's pockets.

Parents with children who were caught in poverty pre-crisis are around 50% more likely to have lost their jobs than parents who were better off. 6 in 10 families are having to borrow money; 7 in 10 families have had to cut back on essentials, and over 5 in 10 families are falling behind on rent or other essential bills. 

For these children and their parents, the long-term effects on childhood and family life could be significant.

We are talking about an extra £20 a week to stop families having to make the choice between paying their bills or feeding their children. It is a question of helping people survive.

Save the Children and the JRF have made the case for an urgent, temporary lifeline for families in the form of a £20 per week increase to the child element of Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit, to minimise the long-term impact of the crisis on children.

This is equivalent to £2.85 per child, per day: enough to cover a child’s breakfast and lunch or to buy books and toys so children can play and learn. Modelling by JRF shows that this would help keep up to 4 million families afloat and provide direct support for 8 million children.

When I asked the Prime Minister to make this commitment of £20 a week, he refused to answer my question - twice. We are talking about an extra £20 a week to stop families having to make the choice between paying their bills or feeding their children. It is a question of helping people survive.

This Tory government has overseen a decade of austerity that has driven more people into poverty and scrapped child poverty targets, and while families are hit by the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister has approved funding for his own vanity project - a luxury VIP plane. 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has received more than 2.3 million new applications from families for Universal Credit since the beginning of the crisis. Prior to the crisis, 2.6 million families were on Universal Credit, of which almost 1.2 million were families with children.

A £20 a week increase will give families with children the lifeline they need to pull them through these difficult times.

 

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Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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