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, said: “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.
Turn2us is also urging the UK Government to suspend the Two-Child Limit and the Benefits Cap, both of which stop many families from getting the necessary amount of support they need to get by.
For example, around 134,000 families applying for Universal Credit as a result of coronavirus are estimated to be affected by the Two-Child Limit.
Helen, 48, is a lone parent and runs an Ascot-based business, Helen’s Helping Hands – which provides a cleaning, shopping and gardening service for the elderly and people with long-term health conditions.
Due to the pandemic, she has paused her work to reduce the danger, which would cut off vulnerable people from her help, and has slashed her own income.
With this sudden loss of income, she is struggling to get by and support her young daughter Eliza on just the working tax credit and child tax credit.
These funds won’t be enough for them to cover bills and basic costs until the self-employed grant comes through from the Government in June.
Maria, 35, is a manager at a distribution warehouse for a fashion retailer. Due to the pandemic she has been sent home from work, with yet no clarity on her pay. She lives with her partner and two children.
Her youngest is 14 months old and suffers from cerebral palsy. Her partner is a food delivery driver so continues to work given he is a key worker.
At the start of the year, her Universal Credit was stopped due to an error in the system around her true income figure. This has still not been resolved.
She receives child tax credits but is still awaiting a decision on her Disability Living Allowance application for her 14-month-old daughter.