Almost three and a half million children will be affected by the cut to Universal Credit (UC) payments from next month, figures suggest.
The organisations, including homelessness charity Crisis, The Big Issue, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and the debt charity StepChange, urged the government to reverse the decision in a joint statement.
Coupled with a freeze in local housing allowance, they warned: “We have seen no assessment from the UK government on the impact of either of these policies will have on the capacity of recipients to cover rent payment.”
1.8 million households
There were more than 1.8 million households containing around 3.4 million children claiming the benefit as of May 2021, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
A temporary £20 a week uplift, introduced to help claimants weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic and described as a “lifeline”, is to be phased out from late September.
Camilla Kingdon, Neonatologist, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health President wrote in the BMJ: “If the cut goes ahead this autumn, modelling by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation (JRF) indicates that half a million more people—including a further 200,000 children—will be dragged across the poverty line in the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War.
“It must not happen. The loss of £20 from a week’s budget can, quite literally, mean children going hungry—or parents going hungry so their children can eat. It can mean being unable to afford to put the heating on. For many, it will mean choosing one or the other. “
The figures, published on Tuesday, for the first time show the number of children in households claiming UC.
Overall, households without children accounted for around 56% of households claiming UC in May 2021. Of the households with children, three-quarters contained a youngest child of primary school age or younger.
Almost half (46%) had a child under the age of five (850,000 families) and 570,000 families had a youngest child aged 5-10.
Around four in five households had two children or fewer.
Dan Paskins, director of UK Impact at Save the Children, said: “These figures confirm that the Government’s scheduled cut to Universal Credit will affect nearly three-and-a-half million children.
“The £20 increase has been a lifeline for many families. Parents we work with tell us that they’re relying on the extra £20 per week to buy essentials like food and clothes for their children. Without it, we know that many more families will be pushed into the red.
“This is especially worrying since three-quarters of families with children on Universal Credit have a child under ten, and we know that living in poverty as a young child has lifelong impacts.”
Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow child poverty secretary, said the cut will hit the “lowest paid hardest” and hinder economic recovery.
He said: “There is near universal opposition to this cut, which will push more children into poverty.
“Time is running out for the Prime Minister to see sense, back struggling families and cancel his cut to Universal Credit.
“Labour would maintain the uplift until we can replace Universal Credit with a fairer social security system.”
Important to remember: 40% of Universal Credit claimants – over two million people – are in work. https://t.co/muMedBraWM— Trades Union Congress (@The_TUC) August 12, 2021
Millions face winter with a lethal mix of price rises & universal credit cuts.— Jon Trickett MP (@jon_trickett) August 17, 2021
Stripping away £20 a week from those on Universal Credit while putting their energy bills up £139 should be a criminal offence.
Extend Universal Credit uplift to Legacy Benefits & make it permanent !
A) 4 in 10 people on Universal Credit have jobs already— David Schneider (@davidschneider) August 12, 2021
B) The people who have received the most support from this government are its pals, donors and that guy who owned Matt Hancock’s local. https://t.co/iISDp3Vyqg
Boris Johnson said he can’t live on £141,000 per year— Thomas H. (@THemingford) August 15, 2021
He dismissed a salary of £250,000 a year as “chicken feed”.
Recently, he said he needs £300k to just get by.
The £20 increase to Universal Credit must be made permanent. #IHateBorisJohnson
£20 can be the difference between putting food on the table and going hungry. The proposed £20 cut to Universal Credit will push hundreds of thousands of people into poverty, including many of us with mental health problems. We must #KeepTheLifeline— Mind (@MindCharity) August 17, 2021
Thousands of families told us they rely on the £20pw increase to #UniversalCredit to buy essentials for their children— Save the Children UK (@savechildrenuk) August 17, 2021
Without it, hundreds of thousands more children will be pushed into poverty
Tell the UK govt to #KeepTheLifeline write to your MP nowhttps://t.co/FLYF8Nv7SE pic.twitter.com/7kBaezKdRa
“I’m reminded of the harrowing picture painted by a fellow paediatrician in Belfast, recounting how she’d seen toddlers in her emergency department who, when given a sandwich while they waited, hid the crusts in their nappy so they could be sure they had something to eat later.” https://t.co/ReQN3wskgj— SavetheChildren News (@SaveUKNews) August 17, 2021
“The Government have repeatedly said they want to ensure all children get the best start in life – but children cannot have a good start if they’re growing up in poverty.” @bmj_latest on why the cut to #UniversalCredit flies in the face of the Government’s plans to #LevelUp https://t.co/P8IGRlWZCE— Joseph Rowntree Foundation (@jrf_uk) August 17, 2021