William Eichler 14 September 2020

Thousands of families face ‘bleakest’ winter, charity warns

A new report from a children’s charity has warned of a ‘bleak’ winter with thousands of families set to be plunged into financial crisis.

Action for Children has been running an emergency appeal during the lockdown which has supported over 10,000 vulnerable children across the country in need of urgent essentials.

Nearly two thirds (63%) of the fund was spent on families needing help with food, clothes, bills and learning resources. Just over 70% of them didn’t have financial issues before the pandemic.

Around a third (32%) of the fund was spent on families who needed emergency help to obtain learning resources to develop or keep up with schoolwork, particularly online teaching.

One in five (21%) families revealed they had seen at least one adult lose their job or have their pay cut.

The charity warns that with a second wave and an end to the Government’s furlough scheme there will be mass unemployment which will impact already struggling families.

Two thirds (66%) of the charity’s key workers on the ground fear families will become worse off over the next six months, Action for Children reported.

The charity urged the Chancellor to use the November Budget to put a protective shield around struggling families by not withdrawing the £20 a week increase in Universal Credit in the Spring and by boosting Child Benefit this winter.

‘Six months into this pandemic, families are hanging by a thread as they face one of the bleakest winters of their lives. While parents on low incomes are starting to buckle, a new wave of families who’ve never needed help before are now also struggling to make ends meet,’ said Carol Iddon, deputy chief executive at Action for Children.

‘Our key workers say child poverty levels are at the worst they can remember and have had to deliver life-changing support to thousands of families desperate to keep their kids clothed and well-fed. With furlough ending and unemployment set to rocket just as we hit the colder months, they’ll be plunged into even deeper crisis.

‘We must prevent a generation of children from being scarred by poverty and the pandemic. We’ll be there to support them this winter, but the government must put a protective shield around struggling families by ensuring that November’s Budget makes clear that Universal Credit will not be cut by £20 a week in the Spring.’

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