Universal Credit (UC) is causing thousands of children to go hungry this summer according to a survey by Unite, the UK’s largest union.

More than four fifths (79 per cent) of parents in a survey of over 1,000 Universal Credit (UC) claimants said they found it hard to make ends meet during the school holidays. Many had been put into debt, forced to rely on foodbanks or the help of friends and family because of the disgraceful benefit system.

Unite is calling for a stop to the controversial new UC system and for it to be replaced with a social security system that is fair and treats people in a humane way.

The survey will be published to coincide with a national day of action against UC tomorrow (Thursday 1 August 2019) with 63 events taking place across England and Wales.

The loss of free school meals during the holidays adds between £30 and £40 a week to parents’ outgoings. Families with children are more likely to fall into crisis and make up over half of people at foodbanks.

During six weeks of May and June, 2055 people responded to the survey including 1173 UC claimants. The findings make grim reading and identify a number of issues facing a significant number of people claiming the benefit. Over 80 per cent of parents also identified birthdays and other family events and Christmas as times when it is particularly difficult to make ends meet. Appallingly 69 per cent of parents had skipped meals and 52 per cent said they couldn’t afford school trips.

Unite head of community, Liane Groves said: “Universal Credit is causing misery and suffering as the survey results clearly show. Hundreds of thousands of children in the UK are not being fed properly because their parents don’t have the money to make ends meet.

“This situation becomes even more critical during school holidays when children can’t rely on school dinners – which for too many is the only meal they will get in a day.

“Unite is demanding that social security payments are sufficient to provide families with enough money to buy healthy food for their children.

“Despite knowing how Universal Credit is forcing claimants into poverty, the government is still intent on ploughing ahead regardless, pushing families to the brink of survival.

“Evidence from voluntary and community organisations as well as unions and local authorities seems to be ignored as the government presses on with the implementation of Universal Credit.”


For more information please contact Unite head of community Liane Groves on 07793 661657 or Liane.Groves@unitetheunion.org

Notes to editor:

There are currently 1,754,001 people claiming Universal Credit in England.

A full report on the survey’s findings will be launched at a parliamentary event in September.

Universal Credit (UC) replaces six existing ‘legacy’ benefits to be claimed if a person is on a low income or out of work. All new claimants, or those who have had a change of circumstances, have to claim UC.

Further survey findings for respondents with children – 41 per cent rely on food banks, 81 per cent have been unable to buy clothing, 55 per cent couldn’t afford school uniform and equipment, 58 per cent can’t afford transport, 67 per cent can’t pay their utility bills. In order to get by 25 per cent have taken out a payday loan, 9 per cent have gone to a loan shark, 80 per cent are relying on the support of family and friends.

Details of events can be found here https://unitetheunion.org/media/2534/stopuniversalcreditv8-300719.pdf

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

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