Yesterday the government announced an extra £170m for local authorities to support families in England with essentials this winter. We’re calling for this to be given as cash to families. I am sure you will agree with us that families should have the dignity of making their own choices about how to meet their children’s needs. We want parents to be able to buy food for their families, and also be able to heat their homes and buy clothing, toys and other things their children need.
The government also said they would extend school holiday programmes to more children in England – which is very welcome. But when it comes to tackling child poverty in a lasting way, families across the UK need more secure incomes to keep their heads above water. More and more people now recognise the value of our social security system and that it needs to do more to support families.
The government needs to keep the £20 lifeline in universal credit, but also to act on children’s benefits. The £20 increase is the same if you are a single person or a parent with two kids. If the government increased child benefit families would have more money to cover all children’s needs – from food to clothes to school trips – throughout the year. The government should also lift the two-child limit and benefit cap that break the link between a family’s needs and the support they receive.
It’s good that the government is addressing the immediate crisis we face and improving support for families in the holidays, but now it’s time to reduce and end child poverty with a plan to improve family incomes and tackle costs.