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Families facing financial crisis during bleak winter ahead, warns charity

A ‘worrying new wave’ of families who were just about coping with the pressures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic will be heading for financial crisis, Action for Children has warned.

With winter, the end of furlough and a possible second COVID outbreak looming, thousands of families, already struggling to feed and clothe their children, could be plunged into a bleak winter crisis, the charity states.

Two thirds of Action for Children’s key workers who have supported children through its emergency appeal say families will be worse off over the next six months.

Carol Iddon, deputy chief executive at Action for Children, said: “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.”

Since lockdown began, the charity has been running an emergency appeal which has supported over 10,000 vulnerable children across the country in need of urgent essentials and 63% of the fund was spent on families needing help with food, clothes, bills and learning resources.

While thousands of vulnerable families struggled even before coronavirus hit, a new wave of families have found themselves in dire straits virtually overnight because of falling incomes and rising household costs. More than 70 cent of people accessing the appeal 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.

- Despite the government’s furlough scheme, one in five families revealed they had seen at least one adult lose their job or have their pay cut.

- But as a possible second wave approaches, along with the furlough scheme ending and predictions of mass unemployment, two thirds (66%) of the charity’s key workers on the ground fear families will become worse off over the next six months.

- The majority of Action for Children’s keyworkers said they have also needed to provide extra emotional support for parents and children, with many having to work longer or unusual hours to get families and children the support they need.

Action for Children has launched its End Childhood Crisis campaign, and the charity is warning that a generation of children are at risk of being scarred by poverty and now the pandemic.

The charity is urging 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.

Carol Iddon, deputy chief executive at Action for Children, said: “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.”

To support Action for Children’s End Childhood Crisis campaign and help its key workers deliver life-changing support for children and families go to actionforchildren.org.uk


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