Posted: 08 April 2020

How coronavirus is affecting low-income families

The coronavirus crisis has disrupted the life of every child. But for the four million children who live in poverty in the UK, and the millions whose parents struggle to pay bills, the consequences of this virus could be deadly.

The Government has introduced several measures to tackle this pandemic, including enforcing social distancing and closing schools. Taking these steps is understandable and necessary – but we can’t ignore the impact they will have on our most vulnerable children.

Lockdown losses

Lockdown means many people are earning less, with low earners’ incomes being affected the most. Among the hardest hit are people on zero-hours contracts, workers in heavily affected industries like hospitality and those with little job security.

But while many families’ incomes have decreased, school closures mean their cost of living has escalated. While their children spend more time at home, families are facing mounting utility bills, childcare costs and food bills.

Turning to food banks

Free school meals make a huge difference to poor families’ finances. So much so that in the school holidays, when these meals aren't available, many families rely on food banks.

With schools closed, these families may need to turn again to food banks, joined by families who are earning less under lockdown. But food banks have been hit by shortages and many are running low on essentials. 

The Government's voucher scheme for children eligible for free school meals is welcome, and it's fantastic that the scheme has been extended to cover children who do not usually qualify for free school meals because of strict immigration rules. However, these families still don't have access to Universal Credit, Tax Credits or other benefits which act as a lifeline for many families struggling to make ends meet.

A lifeline

For low-income families, the support provided by our services can be the difference between life and death.

A project worker at Safer Families described to us how she’d supported a single mother of three, who came to the UK as a refugee, during this crisis:

'She’s really struggling. I had a food parcel delivered to her because she didn’t have any food’ - project worker

This project worker is one of our many incredible frontline staff providing urgent support to young people that can literally save their lives.

But thousands of vulnerable children are at risk of losing this vital lifeline if we cannot continue to help them in their time of crisis.

Please donate to our Emergency Coronavirus Appeal to ensure we can be there for the children who need us the most.

Donate to our Emergency Lifeline Appeal

By Lauren Cain
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