Why we need it


If you lose your job or are trapped in low-paid work, Britain’s broken social security system can’t be relied upon to protect you from poverty, even during a pandemic. 

Furlough and self-employed income support, along with a temporary increase to benefits, have eased the pain for some, but too many are still struggling: 

  • One in four people reported a loss of more than one-fifth of their household income. 
  • Furlough was not available to everyone, leaving 1.7 million people unemployed. 
  • Around 500,000 self-employed people missed out on self-employment support. 

Many who have lost jobs or income are reliant on our broken benefits system. The number of people claiming universal credit has more than doubled in the last year, to almost six million in January 2021. But when the temporary £20 uplift is removed in September, unemployment benefit will be worth less than at any time since the creation of the welfare state in 1948.

Anne-Marie, Spearhead Trust. Photo by Ella Carman.

If a person loses their job in the UK, on average they receive one third of their income in benefits, compared with 59% in France and 83% in Denmark.

But even having a job may not protect you. In modern Britain, many children live in poverty even though their parents work. And not everyone can work, due to other responsibilities or circumstances like ill health.

Instead of ensuring everyone has a decent standard of living, our social security system strips people of choice and dignity, forcing them to jump through bureaucratic hoops or back into workplaces even when they need to self-isolate or care for others. 

We need a plan that ensures that everyone – no matter who and no matter where they are from – has enough to live on, whether they are in or out of work.

Read the pamphlet