Hard-up families are skipping meals, wearing coats indoors to stay warm, and living in the dark because they can’t afford to switch on the lights, according to the leading children’s charity, Action for Children.
Current levels of severe and persistent hardship among families supported by the charity’s children’s centres, triggered by cuts to universal credit and rising energy bills, were among the worst it could remember, said Action for Children’s director of policy, Imran Hussain.
“The worst pain and misery of the cost of living crisis is being felt by children in low-income families, yet the government is refusing to target help for these children or accept that it needs to rethink its huge cut to universal credit,” he said.
A children’s hardship fund set up by the charity two years ago to provide one-off help to struggling families during the pandemic has evolved into a “permanent crisis fund” helping thousands of families. Analysis of the crisis fund showed that half of families accessing it for help reported stress, anxiety or mental health concerns among the adults or children. One in five applications highlighted the £20 cut in universal credit last October as a trigger for the families’ difficulties.