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Changes to social security benefits are devastating family incomes and will double the number of UK children living in poverty, according to a damning new report published today.

Research by Policy in Practice, on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner for England, found that policies like Universal Credit, the Two-Child Limit, and Benefit Cap affect 48% of households and will leave them worse off by £3,441 per year.

While Universal Credit will see 56% of households better by £172 a month compared to legacy benefits, 40% are set to lose £181 per month on average.

A near empty food cupboard. Photo: Oxfam.

The report also found that Universal Credit advance payments will increase the number of households who face a cash shortfall at the end of each month by 63%, from 11.6% under Universal Credit to 18.9% once the advance payment is deducted from Universal Credit awards.

Meanwhile, the highly controversial Two-Child Limit, which restricts benefit eligibility to the first two children born to a family, is predicted to affect 23.1% of children. The report warns that this cruel policy will leave 15.6% of children at risk of being pushed even deeper into poverty.

And the Benefit Cap affects 2.9% of households who lose £2,832 on average per annum.

Overall, the cumulative impact of all welfare reforms “is considerably greater than the impact of each reform in isolation”, the report says.

Deven Ghelani, founder of Policy in Practice, said the Government needs to do more to track and report the impact of its policies on low-income households.

He said: “The government needs to make this information more accessible, so it can be used to help those that most need it.”

Adam Corlett, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, told The Guardian: “These cuts are the culmination of a significant retrenchment of support with children.

“The result is more children living in poverty. Absolute child poverty rose last year, and we expect relative child poverty to rise in the years ahead.”

Council housing dwarfed by London’s financial district. Photo: Oxfam.

Frank Field, an independent MP and Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said: “The secretary of state – having inherited these policies – is now faced with the unenviable task of trying to turn the ship around.

“As a first move, she (Amber Rudd) will need to take a long, hard look into the face of poverty in this country and begin to ensure that the Department for Work and Pensions, in every single case, acts in a way that is fit for any family – whether it’s hers or anybody else’s.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Policy in Practice’s own analysis shows that 56% of families are better off now than under the old system.

“Universal credit is a force for good which will see an extra 200,000 people move into work and 700,000 families increase their income.”.

“More than 1.8 million people across the UK are getting tailored support through universal credit and people can get their first payment in full as an advance on day one of their claim and repayments can be adjusted in certain circumstances.

“We also recently announced that all children born before 6 April 2017 will continue to be supported by the benefit.”