25 Nov 2014

In response to the expansion of Universal Credit to families with children, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

'The expansion of Universal Credit today is the beginning of a huge change that will ultimately affect nearly seven million children — half of all children in the UK. It is critical the Government gets it right and that none of its measures pushes more children into poverty.

'Much of Universal Credit is very welcome. But without vital changes, many families struggling to make ends meet and give their children the basics will fail to benefit from its reforms.

'Changes need to be made to this system to make sure work really does pay. Free school meals must be available to all children on Universal Credit and action taken to stop the poorest families from facing childcare debt. Support with childcare costs must be made upfront, rather than reimbursed, so this system truly benefits the families that need it most.

'It is also crucial that access to Universal Credit is not only online as many families do not have internet availability. Without universal access, many vulnerable families will be left out in the cold.'

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Notes to editors:


  • 3.7 million children in the UK are living in poverty today: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/households-below-average-income-hbai-199495-to-201213
  • While Minister of State (Employment), Work and Pensions, Chris Grayling stated 6.7 million children would be in households entitled to Universal Credit
  • Six in 10 children living in poverty are in low-income working families: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/households-below-average-income-hbai-199495-to-201213
  • With the extension of free school meals to all children in infant schools, 160,000 more children in poverty get this key support. But over 500,000 children in poverty continue to miss out. It is vital that all children in families receiving Universal Credit get this crucial help.
  • By 2020, an estimated three quarters of a million more children will be living in poverty than today according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies: http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/r78.pdf
  • The Children’s Society is supporting the first-ever Children’s Commission on Poverty. The commissioners want the government to draw on children’s actual experience – and not just the statistics -- when developing measures to tackle child poverty. The Children’s Commission on Poverty is being supported by The Children’s Society and led by a panel of 16 children and teenagers from across England, ranging in age from 12 to 19. They are leading an 18-month investigation into child poverty in the UK. It provides a crucial platform for children to speak out about what poverty is really like and reveal, through their own eyes, the day-to-day challenges they face and what needs to be done. 
  • The Children’s Society has helped change children’s stories for over a century. We expose injustice and address hard truths, tackling child poverty and neglect head-on. We fight for change based on the experiences of every child we work with and the solid evidence we gather. Through our campaigning, commitment and care, we are determined to give every child in this country the greatest possible chance in life.