Coronavirus has left low-income families struggling with a significant deterioration in living standards and high stress levels, a child poverty charity has found.
According to a new survey by Child Poverty Action Group, eight in 10 hard-up families said they were financially worse off as a result of the pandemic.
More than three-quarters of respondents said the coronavirus has affected their ability to pay for food (83%) and utilities (76%) and around half said it has affected their ability to pay for housing (47%) and child-related costs (e.g. nappies or baby products, children’s clothes – 53%).
Nearly six in 10 families are struggling to pay for three or more of these basic essentials (58%).
Nearly half (48%) told the charity they have a new or worse debt problem and 23% reported experiencing a relationship issue at home. 46% have taken on extra caring responsibilities.
Commenting on the findings, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham, said: ‘Low-income parents have been living under a cloud of anxiety in lockdown -trying to find money for family basics as their costs have been rising. That’s taken a very heavy toll on the health and well-being of the worst affected parents and children.
‘We all want to protect children and families from the effects of the coronavirus recession and to prevent a growth in poverty following the pandemic.
‘But the support we offer low-income parents just doesn’t meet the additional costs of raising children and there was nothing in the Government’s emergency support schemes to correct this shortfall.
‘Child benefit alone has lost £5 of its value since 2010 because of sub-inflationary uprating and freezes. Re -investing in children’s benefits and widening access to free school meals should be the priorities now to protect family incomes and to support children’s life chances.
‘As the Government’s Covid-19 emergency support schemes are tapered away in the coming months, more help will be needed for struggling families who have lost jobs or taken income drops. Otherwise they will have only more hardship on their horizon.’