In the UK, and in London especially, the rising cost of living is having a severe effect on some families. The pandemic has hit hard and some of those who were furloughed have unfortunately been made redundant. This has placed additional stress on already tight household budgets and for some, it can push them over into poverty. It’s a heartbreaking state of affairs but a sad reality for some families. Can you imagine having to tell your child that they can’t have new toys? Or new clothes? This can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation for school age children and, horribly, they can be bullied for not ‘fitting in’ with their peers. This, in turn, makes their parents feel as though they are unable to provide for their children.
Rather unhelpfully, the Government have made a recent decision to cut the increase to universal credit that they brought in during the pandemic. The £20 per week boost to universal credit is due to come to an end on 6 October 2021. There have been appeals from some MPs to the Government to keep the £20 increase in place permanently but so far the Government doesn’t seem to be listening. Although at the time of writing the devolved Governments were also putting pressure on Westminster to allow families to keep the extra income.
Universal credit is claimed by more than 5.5 million households across the UK (BBC, 2021) and the cut back to pre-pandemic rates will leave a lot of families short of funds. This comes at a time when most children will be heading back to school and so will require a new school uniform and shoes, not to mention other essentials.
Feeding and clothing the average family has become a cost that some are just unable to cope with. According to the Office of National Statistics, in the financial year ending 2020 the average weekly household spend in the UK was £587.90. That’s a lot of money for the average family to have to spend and it’s no wonder a lot of people struggle to make ends meet. It generally means that some things have to be sacrificed and only the most basic of items can be bought.
A new law on the price of school uniforms is due to come in shortly (gov.uk, 2021) although this unfortunately won’t be in place in time for the new school term. However, this is a welcome step in the right direction for any family on a budget. If only the Government took the same view on universal credit then some progress might begin to be made.
So, while the cost of living continues to get ever higher, we will carry on doing our essential work to ensure that families are able to exchange our clothing vouchers for clothes that will see them through these difficult times. Perhaps the cost of living will become more bearable in the future, who knows?
To help those in need, you can make donations to the Clothing Collective here
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