Lockdown Forcing Families Further into Debt
August 26, 2020
The realities of life in lockdown have been forcing huge numbers of families into financial trouble and often further into debt.
That’s according to research carried out recently on behalf of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), which has highlighted some of the struggles low-income households have been experiencing in recent months in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Almost eight in 10 low-income families have had their financial position made worse one way or another by lockdown and the virus crisis, while 48 per cent say they’ve either developed debt problems or seen them get more serious since March this year.
For a lot of parents, the extra financial pressures have been tough to bear, with many feeling as if they’ve somehow let down their children, the CPAG research suggests.
Part of the problem for most low-income families is that they’ve needed to spend more money on everyday essentials such as food and energy bills because of the lockdown situation.
Significant numbers of people have lost their jobs recently because of the pandemic but even those who remain employed have tended to see their financial situation worsening because of increases in living costs.
Those increases are being felt most acutely by those whose financial margins are already tight and who often find themselves relying on debt to make ends meet.
Partly with that in mind, the CPAG has called on the government to raise the rate of child benefit by £10 a week and to extend free school meals programmes to help provide direct support to struggling families across the country.
“Low-income parents have been living under a cloud of anxiety in lockdown – trying to find money for family basics as their costs have been rising,” said the CPAG’s chief executive Alison Garnham in a statement.
“Re-investing in children’s benefits and widening access to free school meals should be the priorities now to protect family incomes and to support children’s life chances,” Ms Garnham added.
“As the government’s Covid-19 emergency support schemes are tapered away in the coming months, more help will be needed for struggling families who have lost jobs or taken income drops.”