As we approach almost one year since the beginning of the first lockdown with longer hair (or dodgy haircuts) and larger waistlines, the picture of whose financial-wellbeing has been worst affected is becoming clearer. As well as certain sectors, such as retail, events, hospitality and the arts, we also know which groups have been more likely to miss out, particularly women on low incomes and those working in insecure jobs in the gig economy.
Who are the ‘excluded’?
For nearly four million people, when the pandemic struck and the lockdown took away their income sources, these were not replaced by the furlough and SEISS schemes. New research out this month by the Foundation and the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol found 1.8 million excluded people have seen their incomes drop by a third or more, five times greater than the rest of the UK population.
This year has seen the formation of many groups campaigning for income support such as Excluded UK and Forgotten Ltd, as well as the Gaps in Support All Party Parliamentary Group, but so far no substantial changes have been made to address the gaps in these schemes. By January a quarter (23%) of the excluded were in serious financial difficulty (compared to just 9% of the rest of the population).
Our CEO, Mubin Haq, asked “How can it be right for the Government to harm your business, leave you in need - and not help you?” in an article he wrote for Conservative Home on the excluded.
Over 700,000 people in working or disabled households would be pulled into poverty by universal credit cuts
A Fabian Society research report (supported by the Standard Life Foundation) out earlier this month revealed that reversing last April’s £20 per week increase in universal credit will overwhelmingly impact working families and disabled people.
95% of the people pulled into poverty by the planned cuts (720,000 people) are in a household where someone is working or disabled. 87% of the planned cuts (£5.5bn per year) will hit working or disabled households.
Like many groups, we are encouraging the government to keep the £20 uplift in next week’s Budget.
3 in 10 low-income families have lost hours at work because of the pandemic
We supported the Women's Budget Group to question just over 1,000 parents on how the lockdowns had affected them. They found twice as many mothers (15%) reported having to take time off work with no pay due to school closures or a self-isolating/sick child compared with fathers (8%). And when it comes to who is responsible for childcare, 58% of mothers said "mostly me" compared with 23% of fathers.
Next week the Chancellor has the opportunity to fix the many holes in our Covid safety net when he delivers his Budget. The UK is a country where everyone should have a fair chance, and our safety net should provide proper support when people fall on hard times. There is plenty of evidence on where the holes are, there is no excuse not to fix them.