THE Women’s Budget Group has published an intersectional analysis of the impact of cuts to social security since 2010, projected to 2027/8 based on pre-election Government spending plans.

The analysis shows that women in the poorest decile face a reduction of £3,348 per year, 26 per cent of their baseline income and follows research published by the End Child Poverty Coalition on 6 June, which found that in two-thirds of constituencies, at least one in four children are in relative poverty after housing costs.

Household type and children

  • Lone parents lose an average of £6,992 per year (an 18 per cent reduction of their baseline income).
  • Couples with children lose an average of £2,262 per year, compared to couples with no children (£580 per year).
  • Households with three or more children experience, on average, a loss of £5,962, of which £1,838 corresponds to the loss of the two-child limit on benefits specifically. This is a cut of almost a quarter (23 per cent) of the baseline income for these households.


  • On average, women lose £1,790 per year as a result of the changes in benefits (seven per cent of their baseline income), whereas men lose £1,023 per year on average (three per cent of their baseline income).

Gender and income deciles

  • Women in the poorest decile face a reduction of £3,348, (26 per cent of the baseline income), compared to men in the same poorest decile who face a reduction of £2,442 (22 per cent of baseline income).

Gender and ethnicity

  • Women from Black, African, Caribbean, and Black British backgrounds lose an average of nearly £2,500 per year, equivalent to 10 per cent of their baseline income.
  • Asian and Asian British women lose slightly less at £2,212 per year, representing a slightly higher proportion of their baseline income, 11 per cent.

Gender and Disability

  • Disabled women lose on average £2,553 per year (11 per cent of their annual net income) compared to £1,952 for disabled men and £562 loss for non-disabled men (two per cent of their annual net income).

Commenting on the findings, Dr Zubaida Haque, Head of Research and Policy and Deputy Director said: “Any one of us is only ever one job loss, relationship breakdown, unexpected bill or tragic event away from turning to the social security safety net that should be there to catch us when we need it. We have had a series of economic shocks – the global financial crash, the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis, which have all eroded households’ financial resilience, especially low-income households.

“Yet rather than increase or maintain levels of support, social security has been cut by £14 billion since 2010. Our findings show that it is women on the lowest incomes, lone parents, Black and Asian women, disabled women and their children who are bearing the brunt of the cuts. Meanwhile, as the real value of most cash benefits has been cut, the cost of living has skyrocketed.

“The devastating impacts include record numbers of households having to turn to food banks, child poverty having more than trebled, households switching off necessities like fridges and freezers, and soaring numbers of people becoming homeless. For these families, austerity has never really ended.

“Households with children, especially those with three children or more are the ones most harmed by social security cuts since 2010. It is shocking that successive governments since 2010 have chosen to penalise children through the two-child limit on benefits, one of the key drivers of child poverty. They have also chosen to further penalise low-income households who were already struggling financially, including disabled people.

“If the next government is serious about tackling child poverty and addressing persistent inequalities, it must repair and reform the social security system. This starts with scrapping punitive and cruel sanctions and restoring the real value of benefits.”

The Women’s Budget Group is calling for the next government to:

  • Increase the real value of benefits to at least restore their pre-2010 values. Also, retain regular uprating of social security benefits for working-age benefits.
  • Abolish the Benefit Cap and two-child limit to prevent child poverty, and make other changes to UC such as ending the UC five-week wait and introducing a second-earner work allowance.
  • Increase Child Benefit to £50 per child. Child Benefit fell significantly in real terms during austerity. We recommend an above inflation increase to counter this and also close the inequality gaps that widened during the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.
  • Restore the link between LHA and actual rental prices and raise LHA to the 50th percentile to ensure the most vulnerable are protected. Ensure that tenant rights are strengthened to protect low-income households, particularly those with children, from soaring rents and the threat of no-fault evictions.
  • In the long term, a better social security system should take a life-course approach, be assessed for equality impacts, based on individual entitlements as far as possible, no[t] means-tested, based on needs and encourage the sharing of care.

The Women’s Budget Group analysis was carried out by Howard Reed, Senior Research Fellow in Public Policy at the University of Northumbria.

* Read the End Child Poverty Coalition research here.

* Source: Women’s Budget Group