Charity calls for UK ministers to take immediate action to help struggling families in Wales
A leading children’s charity is calling for the UK Government to take immediate action to help struggling families in Wales
Save the Children Cymru is urging action after new figures published by the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions confirmed the number of Welsh children living in households reliant on Universal Credit has increased to nearly 190,000.
This rise coincides with a fall in employment and significant financial constraints on families due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
With energy bills due to spiral to unaffordable levels for many people in a matter of weeks, Save the Children says UK ministers must intervene to help those on the lowest incomes who have the most to lose from rising costs.
Debt and poverty
Melanie Simmonds, head of Save the Children Cymru, said: “Behind the figures released today is an individual family, striving to get by in the toughest economic climate for decades.
“We know life for those supported by Universal Credit can be tough at the best of times but after months of cutting back, parents are now running out of options.
“Debt and poverty now seem like the most likely consequences of these record energy bills for parents on the lowest incomes and we are deeply concerned about the impact this will have on children.
“Universal Credit can be part of the solution if the UK government takes a fresh approach.
To ensure children are better protected, they should increase the child element of Universal Credit by £10 per child per week and at least double the UK government’s current cost of living support package for those on low incomes from £1200 to £2400 during these unprecedented times.”
The quarterly statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions on Tuesday (16 August) show that:
- In Wales, 188,459 children in 101,016 households with children were receiving Universal Credit as of May 2022, compared to 182,399, in 98,232 households earlier in February of this year.
- 74% of families in Wales with children on Universal Credit – more than 140,000 households – are single-parent families.
Energy bills are expected to rise by 82% in October, according to energy consultants Cornwall Insight, which will have a significant impact on single parents.
Average energy costs are expected to be £300 per month from October, while a single mother, aged 25 or over, with one young child receives £579.49 in Universal Credit standard allowance plus the child element. From October, this mother would be paying over half of her allowance on energy bills.
Melanie Simmonds added: “One mum told us that after paying the family bills from their Universal Credit she had £50 left in her pocket for four weeks. The cost of the summer break and having to pay for school uniform has already meant that parents have been under untold strain over the past weeks.
It’s one thing struggling to afford trips and activities but having to cut out meals to pay for much-needed childcare whilst facing other sky-high costs is a big concern.”
As well as calling for a children’s cost of living package, Save the Children also wants to scrap the unfair benefit cap and reform to the debt deductions system those on Universal Credit are tied to.
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