RCPCH calls on Government to extend the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit

Our Officer for Health Improvement calls on the Government to extend the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit. The uplift was introduced last year by the Chancellor in response to the pandemic, and is currently due to be removed from payments at the end of March.

Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Improvement at RCPCH said:

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating social and economic impact on the most vulnerable children in our society and their families. Families who were previously managing are now struggling to make ends meet.

The £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit has provided a lifeline to millions of families across the country, going some way to mitigating the negative economic impacts of the pandemic. 

The links between poverty and poor health outcomes are well documented. Children and young people, whilst largely spared the worst clinical effects of COVID-19, are bearing the brunt of the wider impact of the pandemic. Left unchecked, COVID-19 will continue to exacerbate existing problems and deepen structural social and health inequalities. 

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said that if the uplift is not extended, 200,000 more children will be plunged into poverty overnight. This will have significant negative consequences for their life chances. 

As a matter of urgency, this uplift must also be rolled out to those households in receipt of legacy benefits. 

We urge the Government to maintain the £20 a week uplift and keep this lifeline in place for the most vulnerable children and families. Failing to do so will scar the health, wellbeing and life chances of millions of children and young people across the country.