Emergency support in the social security system

Reforming emergency support to reduce demand for food banks

Child Poverty Action Group
March 2022

How do we reduce the need for food banks? Child Poverty Action Group carried out two years of research and analysis to outline the role emergency support should play, and what needs to change to make this a reality.

The report recommends emergency support should include four types of payment:

The report recommends emergency support should include four types of payment:

  1. Key stage development payments for short-term cost increases associated with raising children that can push families into financial crisis.
  2. Lumpy costs payments to cover one-off costs that are difficult to save up for if you are on a persistently low income.
  3. Transitional payments to cover the costs associated with a life shock or transitional phase that can cause a sudden income drop or increase in costs such as: homelessness, relationship breakdown, leaving care or prison.
  4. Emergency payments to cover the cost of essentials following an unexpected crisis that can cause a sudden drop in, or loss of, income or an increase in costs.

Researchers also set out key recommendations for moving to a better system:

  • Review and learn from current emergency support provision across England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Improve delivery in line with best practice, making awards individualised and providing better communication.
  • More consistency across local authorities in England by introducing a statutory duty.
  • Provide a long-term funding commitment for emergency support.

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emergency support