The successful school meal voucher campaign waged by the footballer Marcus Rashford provides only a “sticking plaster” for households living well below the poverty line as a result of Covid-19 job losses, the Fabian Society , a left-of-centre thinktank has said.
Its research had found a huge gap between benefit payments and the amount needed to escape from poverty despite the increases in universal credit announced by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
The research showed that a lone parent without work with one child was left £68 below the £237-a-week poverty line for that family type, while a single parent with three children was having to get by on £142 less than the £393-a-week poverty benchmark.
Andrew Harrop, general secretary of the Fabian Society, said: “Families with children where either parent loses their job during the Covid-19 crisis are finding to their horror that universal credit does not provide enough to meet even basic needs.”
Harrop said more state money was needed.
“During the Covid-19 crisis there can be no possible excuse for punishing families with three children who have just lost their jobs and have no wish to be out of work. There is a safety net required to protect individual households and overall consumer spending during an unprecedented global crisis – our figures reveal its inadequacy.”
The thinktank said its poverty-line figures were a best-case scenario because they assumed that families’ housing and council tax costs were fully covered by other benefit payments, which was almost never the case.