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Project update

We started our first round of interviews in April 2021 and finished it in November 2021. In January 2022, we went back to the parents we'd interviewed in 2021 and started interviewing them for a second time.  This second round of interviews will finish in May. We'll do a third round of interviews later in 2022. We're really thankful to the families taking part in the project for sharing their experiences with us and for making the time to do this. 

What we've learned so far

We've found some important things out about how these policies are impacting families:

Financial impacts of the policies

We have heard a lot about the harm the policies are causing, and how difficult it is to afford essential items because of them.
"It's put me under pressure to try and rush my younger one's potty training which he's clearly not ready, he's not getting there but I can't afford nappies, so it is stressing me out...I don't have money at the end of the month. I have to make ends meet, I have to sell things, I have to do whatever I can." - Alisha
"[One year old daughter] was in size four shoes and she had her feet measured the other day and she’s a six, so for the last two months she’s been wearing shoes that are two sizes too small, but I couldn’t do anything about it...it’s not even Clarks shoes she’s getting, it’s ASDA’s, you know, cheap and cheerful. " - Rachel
"It's put me under pressure to try and rush my younger one's potty training which he's clearly not ready, he's not getting there but I can't afford nappies, so it is stressing me out...I don't have money at the end of the month. I have to make ends meet, I have to sell things, I have to do whatever I can." - Alisha

Impacts on mental health

A lot of the parents told us the policies have caused them stress, worry, anxiety and depression.
"It’s like the stress all the time, every night I’m like not sleeping very well because I’m either thinking about stuff like how I need to pay this out, how am I supposed to afford to pay this out?" - Suzie
"It’s just been really bad, it’s just been really, really difficult, [it’s] especially impacted my mental health...wish I didn’t have to worry financially with am I gonna be able to put meals on my kids’ table." - Daneen
"It’s like the stress all the time, every night I’m like not sleeping very well because I’m either thinking about stuff like how I need to pay this out, how am I supposed to afford to pay this out?" - Suzie

Options for escaping the benefit cap/making up the shortfall from the two-child limit

We found that for many families, it is not possible to escape the cap or make up the short-fall from the two child by getting a job or earning more. Moving to cheaper accommodation to escape the cap is also not a realistic option for most families.
"The last couple of years I was actually looking to go into employment, it just gets very difficult to try and manage three different pick-up…and then the amount that they charge in the nurseries it’s like, I was quite shocked, to be honest, and taken back how much they asked…when I kind of totted it up I thought it’s just really gonna take a chunk out of what I’m going to be earning, a massive chunk, on top of the fact that I have to think of somebody coming collecting them because three-thirty is quite a long time because most jobs finish at five; and for that reason I have kind of been forced to be at a little bit of a standstill at the moment." - Aadya
"So to say to move to cheaper accommodation, I’ve done that and we’re squished and squeezed in this house, there’s five of us in a three bedroom with two box rooms and a slightly big double room and there’s nowhere to put our clothes and the house is riddled with damp." - Amanda
"The last couple of years I was actually looking to go into employment, it just gets very difficult to try and manage three different pick-up…and then the amount that they charge in the nurseries it’s like, I was quite shocked, to be honest, and taken back how much they asked…when I kind of totted it up I thought it’s just really gonna take a chunk out of what I’m going to be earning, a massive chunk, on top of the fact that I have to think of somebody coming collecting them because three-thirty is quite a long time because most jobs finish at five; and for that reason I have kind of been forced to be at a little bit of a standstill at the moment." - Aadya

Strategies for managing low benefit payments

Families are working really hard to make ends meet, but as benefit payments don't cover basic living costs, people are getting into debt.
"I’m constantly trying to chase up, you know, constantly ringing my [social] worker for a food bank [voucher] and constantly trying to get bills down and looking for bargains online and it’s just, it's quite exhausting actually." - Jessica
"Because of the cap, I do find myself borrowing money every single month and then I obviously have to pay that; so it’s like a vicious circle. " - Nicola
"I’m constantly trying to chase up, you know, constantly ringing my [social] worker for a food bank [voucher] and constantly trying to get bills down and looking for bargains online and it’s just, it's quite exhausting actually." - Jessica

How we've been sharing findings from the project

Presented the findings on the two-child limit to MPs and members of the House of Lords at a parliamentary roundtable

Hosted a series of webinars for politicians, charities and religious leaders where we shared the findings about both the two-child limit and the benefit cap

Written many blogs about the impact the policies are having

Shared the project's findings through newspaper articles and on the radio – for example, one of our researchers Aaron Reeves spoke to Radio 4 about the impact of the benefit cap.

About your area

Bradford

  • Bradford is a city in Yorkshire with a population of 540,000
  • By 2021, 4776 families had been affected by the benefit cap
  • In 2021, 5180 families were affected by the two-child limit
  • The child poverty rate (before housing costs) in Bradford in 2020 was 38%, much higher than the national average (19%)
  • Bradford has below average house prices and lower average rents but because Bradford also has below average earnings and a higher unemployment rate, residents can struggle to afford rental costs or the average first time buyer mortgage.

Leeds

  • Leeds is a city in Yorkshire and is the home to 799 000 people
  • By 2021, 6112 families had been affected by the benefit cap
  • In 2021, 4700 families were affected by the two-child limit
  • The child poverty rate (before housing costs) in Leeds was 24% in 2020 (higher than the national average of 19%)
  • While employment rates in Leeds are the same as the national average, the city has seen one of the biggest rises in child poverty in the Yorkshire region in recent years.

York

  • York is a city in North Yorkshire with a population of 211 000
  • By 2021, 611 families had been affected by the benefit cap
  • In 2021, 460 families were affected by the two-child limit
  • The child poverty rate (before housing costs) in York was 13% in 2020. While York’s child poverty rate is lower than the national average (19%), there are big differences in child poverty rates between the city’s wards.
  • York has high rents and house prices (both are above the national average) and is ranked as the least affordable northern local authority.

Greenwich

  • Greenwich is in southeast London and has a population of 288,000
  • By 2021, 3722 families had been affected by the benefit cap
  • In 2021, 1730 families were affected by the two-child limit
  • The child poverty rate (before housing costs) in Greenwich in 2020 was 21%, which is a little above the national average (19%)
  • House prices and rents are considerably higher than the national average.
  • The employment rate is slightly higher than the national average and earnings are also higher.
  • Although Greenwich is often labelled as an affluent borough, it has areas with considerable poverty.

Tower Hamlets

  • Tower Hamlets is in east London and home to 325,000 people
  • By 2021, 6981 families had been affected by the benefit cap
  • In 2021, 2810 families were affected by the two-child limit
  • The child poverty rate (before housing costs) in Tower Hamlets in 2020 was 28% which is higher than the national average (19%). The child poverty rate after housing costs is the highest in London.
  • While the unemployment rate fell between 2014 and 2020, it still has a higher than average unemployment rate for the London boroughs.
  • Housing costs are significantly higher than the national average.

Hackney

  • Hackney is in east London and has a population of 281,000
  • By 2021, 6862 families had been affected by the benefit cap
  • In 2021, 2620 families were affected by the two-child limit
  • The child poverty rate (before housing costs) in Hackney in 2020 was 23% which is higher than the national average (19%)
  • The employment rate in Hackney is slightly higher than the national average while housing costs are significantly higher than the national average.
Did you know?

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