Action for Children responds to the ONS analysis

Monday 04 May 2020

Responding to the ONS analysis published this morning (Monday 4 May) as part of the Personal and Economic Well-being in the UK bulletin (1), which found anxiety has doubled and 8.6m families have seen their incomes fall

Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, said:

“Today’s figures from the ONS seem to suggest the Covid-19 crisis could be creating a new child poverty and mental health emergency.

“Action for Children’s frontline staff are battling to help vulnerable families come out the other side of this but we know from our own research (2) that children pick up on their parents’ worries. For children of parents under lockdown concerned about where the next meal is coming from, the world can seem a very frightening place and many will need mental health support after this.

“If we’re to help families with children and services such as CAMHS cope with what’s coming, we urgently need a decisive mental health rescue package built around getting to children early rather than letting problems spiral. The most effective way we have of getting financial help to families with children is by increasing child benefit by £10 a week. Doing both will give families more breathing space and help tackle mental health problems.”

Parents Nikki and Adam from Selkirk in Scotland have four daughters under 10. When Nikki was pregnant with her youngest, now two, her husband Adam was diagnosed with osteoarthritis meaning they both had to give up work to care for the children and each other. Before coronavirus, they were just about managing financially, however with the local supermarket six miles away, the family began to struggle as they relied on more expensive local shops for food and the bills began to mount up . “It just got really scary really quick.”

Mum Helen Baker, from Torbay in Devon, said: “We’re literally living hand to mouth at the moment. We don’t have savings to fall back on and my husband’s been applying for jobs left right and centre but everyone is scrambling for the same jobs. Our main worry is if it comes to the point where money runs out. What if we can’t put food on the table or how long before we can get Universal Credit? What if we get ill and are stuck in lockdown? Nobody has an answer.”


Media contact

Action for Children press office – 07802 802 679 / [email protected]