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Coronavirus pandemic leaves children facing financial crisis

  • 22/04/2020

Over 10.5 million children in 5.8 million households across the UK are facing financial crisis as one or both of their parents have lost income because of the coronavirus, warns national poverty charity, Turn2us. 

This means 71% of children are living in households where their parents’ employment has been affected. The charity is calling for an increase in Child Benefit of £10 per week per child to help struggling families through the crisis.

According to the charity’s nationwide survey of 2064 working age adults, parents are more likely to have experienced a change in their employment status than any other group of working age adults. Nearly two thirds of households with children have already seen their employment situation affected by coronavirus (62%), compared to 43% of households without children.

Furthermore, a significant number of families with children are unable to afford essentials due to coronavirus. This includes 57% who cannot afford at least one household essential, as a consequence of their employment being affected by the pandemic.

Tom Lawson, Chief Executive of Turn2us, comments:

“It’s a worrying time for families, many of whom will have suddenly lost income as a result of changes to their employment situation. Whether you’ve lost your job, are working reduced hours, or have been furloughed, you still need to put food on the table and pay the bills.

“There are already 4.5 million children in the UK living in poverty; and this crisis has the potential to dramatically increase this number. We can’t let that happen. Ultimately, families need more support to see them through this crisis and we urge the government to intervene and increase Child Benefit payments, which have been subject to freezes since 2011, by £10 per child, per week. This payment will go a long way to helping families cover additional costs – such as extra meals and other household costs – and prevent even more children from being plunged into poverty.”

The survey findings also show:

  • 2.2 million households, including 2.5 million children, are currently unable to afford rent or mortgage payments
  • 1.8 million households, including 2.0 million children, are currently unable to afford heating or electricity costs.
  • 602,000 households, including 944,000 children are currently unable to afford childcare essentials, like nappies and baby food
  • 571,000 households, including 934,000 children are currently unable to afford essential school supplies, due to coronavirus affecting employment.

A large number of families are anticipating a significant drop in their income with 11% of households expecting their net household income to drop below £1000 in April. This corresponds to 1.9 million children affected by this drop.

Summary of recommendations to the government:

  1. Increase Child Benefit by £10 per child per week. This would provide a fast and effective way of reaching the families of 12.7 million children.  This increase, on top of uprating from 6 April, would reduce child poverty by approximately five percentage points.
  2. Suspend the Benefits Cap and Two-child Limit*, both of which stop many families from getting the necessary amount of support they need to get by.

Notes to editors:

*134,000 families applying for Universal Credit as a result of coronavirus are estimated to be affected by the Two-child Limit

Video footage of spokesperson Thomas Lawson is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b192sEEiABA&feature=youtu.be