£20 per week Universal Credit increase has been lifeline for many care-experienced people  

A coalition of charities supporting care-experienced children and young people across the UK have written to the Work and Pensions Secretary calling on her to keep a £20 per week increase in Universal Credit that is due to end in April.  

 The call, in support of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) ‘Keep the Lifeline’ campaign, has been supported by Staf, Aberlour, the Care Leavers Association, CELCIS, Includem, the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum and Who Cares? Scotland.  

 The increase has been a lifeline to families across the UK at a time where we have seen a rise in financial concerns for people with care experience, including children and young people: 

  • We have found rising concerns amongst young people leaving care around food security; digital exclusion; social isolation; and mental   
  • Who Cares? Scotland’s helpline dedicated to care experienced people, set up during the pandemic, has witnessed the increased financial hardship of those who grew up in care with many calls requiring urgent support to pay for utility bills, food, children’s clothing and digital access. 
  • Children’s majority charity Aberlour has seen a 1,000 per cent increase in emergency funding distributed to families through their Urgent Assistance Fund between March and August 2020, compared to the previous year.  

 According to estimates from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, scrapping the increase will reduce the income of 6.2 million families across the UK by £1,040 – pulling 200,000 children into poverty.    

 Staf CEO Jo Derrick stated:  

 “This pandemic has shed new light on the poverty experienced by many care leavers’, and we know that young people will bear the brunt of the economic crisis to come.  
“Now cannot be the time to cut support for our most vulnerable young people. The increase in Universal Credit has been a lifeline – the DWP Secretary must make it permanent.  

“How can we begin levelling up that the UK Government has promised, if our first action is to reduce the incomes of vulnerable young people?  

“These are our children – none should live in poverty and all should have the opportunity to thrive.” 

  • The UK Government introduced a temporary increase in the standard allowance for Universal Credit and the basic element of Working Tax Credits in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and has confirmed that the uplift will be scrapped in April 2021.  
  • Further information on the JRF ‘Keep the Lifeline’ campaign can be found here