DWP's Universal Credit cuts hit 3.5m children as parents face winter cash fears

More than 3.5 million children and teenagers lived in households that received universal credit before the increase was lifted, the latest figures show.

According to the Ministry of Labor and Pensions (DWP), there were more than 1.9 million households with more than 3.5 million children and adolescents in August 2021.

A temporary universal credit hike, introduced to help applicants weather the coronavirus pandemic storm and described as a “lifeline”, was phased out last month. It added £ 86 to Universal Credit’s standard monthly allowance, or about £ 20 a week.

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The latest quarterly figures are the first to be released since the additional funds were canceled.

Numbers showing how many households received universal credit in October when families received their first payments without topping up won’t be released until February.

The data is also the first to be released since the vacation schedule ended on Sept. 30, though DWP said it was too early to assess the impact on UC claims.

According to preliminary data in the press release, there were 5.8 million people on Universal Credit on October 14, down 67,000 from July 8.

Women made up 54 percent of recipients, and as of September 9, 40 percent of UC recipients were employed.

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Households without children made up around 55 percent of households with UC, three percentage points less than in August 2020.

In the five weeks ending October 14, there were an average of 33,000 new applicants per week who started UC, up 9 percent from the four weeks ending September 9.

Dan Paskins, director of UK Impact at Save The Children, said many parents are “constantly worried” about paying food and bills, with children paying the price for missing out on experiences like school trips.

He said: “We welcomed the government’s adjustments to universal credit in the budget.

“But allowing some people to keep more of their income is no substitute for a strong social safety net that protects everyone in our society.

“Ministers must do more this winter to protect children across the UK from cold and hunger.”

A government spokesman said, “This government is committed to helping families and people in need.

“Work is the best way out of poverty, and the changes we’ve made to Universal Credit are improving nearly two million working applicants by about £ 1,000 a year.

“The most vulnerable, including those unable to work, can benefit from additional benefits, and help with essential costs is available through our new £ 500 million support fund.”

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