Thrive Teesside, which works with people on low incomes in Stockton, has teamed up with other organisations and stakeholders around the UK to urge the Chancellor to act and immediately raise CHILD benefit to £50 a week to ease the strain on families during the coronavirus crisis.
A number of reports this week alone have highlighted the pressing need for intervention within our low income communities. New data from the Food Foundation revealed that almost a fifth of households with children have been unable to access food in the past 5 weeks, with meals being skipped. The voucher scheme, designed to ease pressure in households has evidenced some criticisms with families struggling to spend them in shops and awareness in now being raised in relation to the educational divide. In some areas, only 35% of children are accessing on line learning. ‘We know in our community in Stockton, not all families are on line, many cannot afford the internet and concerns are growing in relation to children falling behind with school work’ Tracey, Thrive
Thrive have seen first-hand the severe hardship resulting from the economic impact of coronavirus, with many families struggling to stay afloat. They say increasing Child Benefit is a straight-forward way to support families, because it does not require any new systems or administration.
The letter has been signed by 38 organisations, and was sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak today.
In the letter, the groups write: “As community and grassroots organisations we witnessing the extreme financial consequences Covid-19 is having across the country.
“We are also seeing at first-hand how the Universal Credit system is struggling to cope, how emergency measures are still missing many people out, and how the complexity of the welfare system is creating unnecessary stress and anxiety. At the same time, children adhering to social distancing restrictions and being at home is adding costs to already over-stretched family budgets.“An immediate increase in Child Benefit is a simple, efficient and cost-effective way to provide urgently-needed support to families. Crucially, it requires no changes to systems and will offer instant impact.”
Research has shown Child Benefit now covers only around 20 per cent of the cost of raising a child, and the groups say: “Increasing it to £50 per child per week would be entirely reasonable, while making a significant difference for families.
”They say the impact would be enhanced if other steps were taken, such as abolishing the two-child limit on some benefits, removing the benefit cap so no children are excluded from support, and ending the five-week wait for Universal Credit.
In the letter to the Chancellor, the groups say: “With jobs and livelihoods being lost and businesses closing all of our grassroots organisations are seeing the very real and immediate impact coronavirus is having on family incomes. Increasing Child Benefit to £50 per child per week, plus our other proposals, are straightforward ways to support people facing immense financial strain. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to adopt these measures without delay.”
Tracey Herrington, project manager at Thrive, said, ‘it is important that we work together and raise awareness of the realities in our low income communities. Our collective insight and solution focussed approach is key to making sustainable changes that will have a positive impact in communities that feel left behind’.
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