Tory cuts to Universal Credit will put 1 million more children into poverty2 min read

One million more children will be in poverty by 2020 if the government does not reverse cuts to Universal Credit, according to recent analysis published by the Child Poverty Action Group and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The research shows that the promise of greater rewards for working families has been broken due to cuts to Universal Credit, with affected families losing out by hundreds of pounds per year.

Struggling families to be hit the hardest

A couple with two children below 5 years old, both working for the national living wage (one full-time and one 16 hours per week) and paying an average rent would be £1,283 worse off in 2020 as a result of the cuts. They would have to work another 9 hours between them to make the difference.The authors of the research compared how much worse off families will be because of the cuts, compared to if the government had kept its original policy.

A lone parent with two children below 5 years old, working 16 hours a week for the national living wage and paying an average rent will be £1,658 worse off by 2020. They would have to work another 14 hours a week just to make ends meet.

​​​​Policy changed ‘beyond recognition’

Carys Roberts from the IPPR said: “Universal Credit has the potential to reduce child poverty and ensure work always pays. But our modelling for Child Poverty Action Group shows that consecutive cuts to UC have changed the policy beyond recognition.

“Changes to the design of UC since 2013/14 mean that 1 million more children are likely to be in poverty in 2020 than if government had retained the policy as originally legislated. Furthermore, this is in addition to the issues with implementation and waiting times that are reportedly forcing even more people into arrears and poverty.

“In this month’s Budget, the Chancellor must reinstate the original purpose of UC by reversing the cuts that have been made over the past three years.”

Austerity failing on all fronts

The cuts fall into the wider context of austerity policies that have dominated each government budget since 2010. According to the government, these cuts to essential public services were needed as part of a long term economic plan to eliminate the UK’s deficit by 2015.

However, the deficit is still huge, the national debt has skyrocketed since 2010 to £1.7 trillion and tens of millions have felt the pinch of stagnant wages.

Serious questions were raised over not only the effectiveness but the basic morality of austerity policies when a report by academics at University College London found a link between restrictions on health and social care spending and an estimated 45,000 more deaths between 2010 and 2014 than there would have been had previous trends continued. It remains to be seen, however, whether austerity can be pinned directly to unnecessary deaths within the health and social care system.

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