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- Author or Editor: Jim Kaufman x
This chapter explores how experiences of the pandemic were shaped by inequalities and differences in peoples’ circumstances. With the arrival of summer and the easing of restrictions, many people looked forward to holidays and day trips. But for COVID Realities participants the easing of restrictions and return of something like normal life presented new challenges. This chapter explores how, despite the hardships it imposed, lockdown sometimes offered people limited relief from some spending pressures, but also the social embarrassments of poverty. It explores how the experience of people living on a low income was often out of step with the national narrative, as portrayed on the television and in print media. The chapter documents how experiences of the pandemic were shaped by ethnicity and citizenship status, by work, and by where someone lived.
On Wednesday 3rd March, 2021, Rishi Sunak delivered one of the most anticipated Budgets in living memory. Many participants in COVID Realities waited anxiously to see what Sunak would announce. Whether affected by the £20 increase to Universal Credit, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS, or ‘furlough’), or the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), any changes would have profound and immediate consequences for their lives. Would the measures continue? Or were people going to see their incomes suddenly plummet? This chapter explores the policy and social security response to the pandemic in more detail, highlighting gaps and differences in the support provided to different groups. It situates the policy response in the broader context of longer term developments in social security policy, such as the benefit cap, conditionality, and universal credit. Finally, it considers the case for a return to universalist principles in the provision of social security
Money was already tight for UK families living on a low income before the COVID-19 pandemic, but national lockdowns made life much harder.
Telling the stories of these families, this book exposes the ways that pre-existing inequalities, insecurities and hardships were amplified during the pandemic for families who were already in poverty before COVID-19, as well as those pushed into poverty by the economic fallout it created.
Drawing on the Covid Realities research programme, and developed in partnership with parents and carers, it explores experiences of home-schooling, social security receipt and government, community and charitable support. This book sets out all that is wrong with the status quo, while also offering a powerful agenda for change.
Also see ‘COVID-19 Collaborations: Researching Poverty and Low-Income Family Life during the Pandemic’ (Open Access) to find out more about the challenges of carrying out research during COVID-19.