More than 1m people risk being ‘plunged into poverty’ due to the coronavirus crisis, think tank warns

Rise partly mitigated by Universal Credit changes announced in March, according to analysis


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By Eleanor Langford

04 Jun 2020

An extra 1.1 million people, including 200,000 children, could drop below the poverty line by the end of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, an analysis has suggested.

According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), this could push the number of deprived children in the UK to a total of 4.5 million.

But the think tank’s study also showed the excess number of children falling into poverty was offset by 100,000 due to emergency changes made to the Universal Credit system in March.


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It goes on to suggest further reforms of the benefits system such as removing the two-child limit and increasing Child Benefit by £5 per week could mitigate the rise in poverty entirely, instead leading to a decline.

IPPR associate director Clare McNeil said: “This analysis shows that hundreds of thousands of families and their children who may have been ‘just about managing’ before Covid now face being plunged into poverty.

“The government must apply the same level of ambition it had for supporting businesses and workers in the early stages of this crisis, to prevent a new generation of children and their families falling into poverty through no fault of their own.

She added: “The chancellor must include in this summer’s stimulus a package of measures to support families alongside funding for physical infrastructure and job creation.

"This should include removing the Universal Credit austerity measures, supporting family and carer incomes and investing in childcare to open up more options for parents to return to work.”

Prior to the pandemic, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation claimed approximately 14 million people were living in poverty in the UK, around a third of whom are children.

And a separate report published by the District Councils’ Network also warned that half a million households could face homelessness in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Department of Work and Pensions has been approached for comment.

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