More support is needed for low-income families, say York experts

Low-income families should receive extra financial support as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19, say University of York experts.

An increase in benefits for children is needed to prevent a rise in child poverty, the authors of the study say.

In response to the pandemic, the Government has raised Universal and Working Tax Credit payments by £20 per week, bringing benefit payments to their highest level (relative to average earnings) since 1998/9.

The researchers modelled the impact of these measures and found that they will only reduce child poverty by less than two per cent. Household poverty will also only see an improvement of less than one percent.

But when the researchers looked at what the impact of an increase in child benefit of £10 per-child per-week would be, they found that it would reduce child poverty by five per cent and household poverty by between one and two per cent.

Co-author of the report, Dr Antonia Keung from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York, said: “The needs of families with children have not been recognised in the Covid-19 measures.

“An increase in child benefit would be much more effective than the announced increases in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit. It would reduce child poverty more and also reduce household poverty more, not least because households with children are much more likely to be poor.”