Skip to main content

Post-Covid Policy: child poverty, social security and housing

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the life of every child and their family in the country. Families with children have been among the hardest hit, with job losses and increased costs of living from children being off school causing many families to struggle financially.

Children’s rights should be at the heart of recovery plans, and the UNCRC should underpin the government's post Covid-19 approach so that reforms are in the best interests of children.

Number of pages:

7 pages

Date published:

Introduction

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the life of every child and their family in the country. Families with children have been among the hardest hit with job losses and increased costs of living from children being off school causing many families to struggle financially. The crisis has made life much harder for low-income households, those already living in insecure housing and at risk of homelessness, and those with precarious immigration status.

Even before the pandemic hit, there were 4.2 million children living in poverty in the UK – making up 30% of all children in the country. Many families were already vulnerable to income shocks, following a decade of sustained cuts to social security support. Growing up in poverty restricts a young person’s life chances, from affecting their well-being to their educational attainment and future life chances. The coronavirus crisis has no doubt exacerbated these impacts of child poverty, which has steadily increased over the past four years, pushing many families to breaking point. As government, schools and communities have attempted to support children and families through the changing crisis, emerging issues around the digital divide and children’s access to learning, the number of families living in unsuitable accommodation, and the already-precarious financial situation of many families has highlighted how deep levels of disadvantage run within our society.

The government has acted quickly to protect people’s livelihoods during the pandemic, through initiatives like the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which have helped to safeguard millions of people’s jobs. However, apart from the national Free School Meals voucher scheme, there has been no additional support for children and families. Furthermore, as these schemes begin to wind down over the coming months, more families will turn to the social security system for support as they struggle with loss of earnings, school closures, potential threats of eviction and homelessness, and poor health. It therefore is critical that the government invests in social security, housing and crisis provision to ensure that families are adequately supported through this period of post-Covid recovery. Children’s rights should be at the heart of recovery plans, and the UNCRC should underpin the government's post Covid-19 approach so that reforms are in the best interests of children.