Our new analysis about free school meals shows how many families struggle to meet the extra costs of food in school holidays, and why. We also present strategies the government could adopt to ensure that no family is in financial crisis as a result of the school holidays, including extending free school meals to all children from households in receipt of Universal Credit.
The impact of welfare reforms on child vulnerability
Policy in Practice was asked by the Children’s Commissioner to use local authority held household level data to assess the impact of Universal Credit and associated welfare reforms will have on children in low-income households. Our analysis showed a dramatic increase in child vulnerability as a result of welfare reforms.
We also found that the introduction of Universal Credit, the two child limit to benefits and the Benefit Cap combined has meant that the number of low-income families who are struggling to make ends meet has jumped from 13% to 25%. Further, the cumulative impact of welfare reforms is considerably greater than the impact of each reform in isolation, affecting 48% of households who lose £3,441 on average per year.
The impact of the two-child limit
Zoe Charlesworth, Head of Policy was invited to give evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee in December 2018 about the potential impact of the two-child limit, ahead of the policy’s scope being widened in February 2019
The impact of the two-child limit to tax credits
From Thursday 6 April 2017 the amount of Child Tax Credit support available to families across the UK will be limited to two children. Policy in Practice analysed the impact of the two child limit to tax credits rule coming into effect and we find that, from April, a third child born to low income families will miss out on up to £2,780 of tax credit support a year. This change will affect 8,000 families each month. The two child limit to tax credits measure will affect all households with two or more children that have an additional baby after this date. This report details further findings and the methodology used.
Consultation response: Eligibility for free school meals and the early years pupil premium under Universal Credit
The Government recently proposed new criteria for eligibility to free school meals under Universal Credit. We welcome both the commitment to ensuring that free school meals are maintained for those on the lowest incomes, as well as the protection measures proposed for those that lose eligibility. However, it is our view that the proposal, as it stands, does not meet the objectives of Universal Credit which is to make work pay. Our consultation response set out our main reservations about the current proposal, together with a suggested solution.
The right start: How to support early intervention through initial contact with families
The Children’s Society worked with Policy in Practice to produce a ‘how to’ guide to sharing live birth data and principles of a data-sharing agreement which can be adopted and implemented by local authorities.
New analysis into how to fund Free School Meals finds that it will cost the government 60% less than parents to feed their children during school holidays.
Healthy Start vouchers are a significantly underclaimed benefit designed to improve the health of low income families. Poor take up can be tackled by proactively identifying eligibility and targeting support.
A new study by Policy in Practice for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner shows a dramatic increase in child vulnerability as a result of welfare reforms.
Haroon Chowdry, Head of Analysis, Children’s Commissioner’s Office, joined us to discuss how benefits data can help us understand child vulnerability. We shared findings from analysis we did for the CCO on the impact that welfare reforms will have.
Early intervention is vital to keep children out of poverty and linking datasets can build a better picture of child vulnerability. Directors of Children’s Services and Heads of Revenues and Benefits can identify need, target support and track change using their linked data.
Read our response to the consultation on eligibility to free school meals under Universal Credit and our alternative idea that feeds 1 million more children.
Policy in Practice director Deven Ghelani gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee on two child limit for tax credits this week.