Many of those on the lowest incomes have been hit hardest financially by the cost of living crisis. The project draws on the voices of those with direct experience of poverty and social security, engaging them in the changes that are needed. The work builds on the Covid Realities programme which explored the experiences of parents and carers on low incomes during the pandemic.

This briefing shares insight from participants about the hardship families are facing this winter, and the strategies they are forced to adopt in their effort to keep their children warm. These stories illustrate that policy responses are falling short of what many low-income families with dependent children need, so the briefing makes the following key policy recommendations, which have been developed with participants:

  • The government's approach of providing flat-rate support to households regardless of household size has left families with children struggling more than others. The government should recognise the additional costs of children by increasing Child Benefit to help people on the lowest incomes, as well as those on middle incomes who will also be struggling.
  • The £150 payment to recipients of certain disability benefits only offsets a fraction of their increased energy costs. The government should increase and expand the support provided for disabled people and those with a health condition by increasing the value of Personal Independence Payments and reducing the time it takes to process a new claim
  • Introduce a system for a social tariff for energy to be easily accessible to provide discounted energy costs to families on a low-incomes.

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