COVID-19 resources

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Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2020

Institute for Fiscal Studies

This report examines how living standards – most commonly measured by households’ incomes – were changing in the UK up to approximately the eve of the current COVID-19 crisis, using the latest official household income data covering years up to 2018–19. In particular, the report focuses on how this differed for different groups, and what this meant for poverty and inequality. It provides a comprehensive account of household income before the pandemic, including for groups who have subsequently had their economic lives disrupted. The report finds that the COVID-19 crisis hit at a time when income growth had already been extremely disappointing for some years, with the main culprit for the latest reduction in real income growth being a rise in inflation from 2016; overall relative poverty was 22% in 2018−19, and it has fluctuated little since the early 2000s – relative child poverty has increased by 3 percentage points, which represents the most sustained rise in relative child poverty since the early 1990s; absolute poverty was 20% in 2018−19 – virtually unchanged over the last two years; workers whose livelihoods look most at risk during the COVID-19 crisis already tended to have relatively low incomes, and were relatively likely to be in poverty, prior to the onset of the crisis; in 2018−19, only 12% of non-pensioners lived in households with no one in paid work, down by a third from 18% in 1994–95 – this progress is highly likely to be undermined by the COVID-19 pandemic; despite temporary increases in benefits announced in response to the pandemic, the benefits system in 2020 provides less support to out-of-work households than in 2011.

Last updated on hub: 20 July 2020

Living through a lockdown: reflections and recommendations from young people at risk of serious violence


This report explores the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on young people at risk of youth violence who have received support from one or more of our organisations. It is based on analysis of 41 responses from people aged between 14 and 25 – young people, some with the support of youth workers, completed a 20-question online survey, detailing their experiences during lockdown. The study identified four themes: communication and community; support; safety; and mental health. Although young people did find positives from this time, in particular being able to spend time with family and feeling like part of a community, the overwhelming impression is of a generation of young people being left behind. The young people surveyed gave an important insight into what they find important: spending time with friends and family; being given opportunities to contribute to their local community through work or volunteering; support from social workers and youth workers, including for mental health problems; increased support for vulnerable people; good and clear communication from policy makers; and feeling safe on the streets. The report makes a series of recommendations, calling on authorities to consult with young people to produce targeted messages around any upcoming local lockdown restrictions; create pathways to ongoing opportunities for community engagement and active citizenship; and co-create and publish a long-term plan for young people to ensure they do not suffer disproportionately as a result of the lockdown.

Last updated on hub: 06 January 2021

Local government and Covid-19: social care, a neglected service

Local Government Information Unit

This briefing looks at the state of the social care sector pre-pandemic and the impact that the virus has had on care homes and domiciliary care. There were over 4,000 deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes England in the two weeks up to 28 April – over four times the number recorded in residential and nursing homes up to that point and it is not clear whether the virus has yet reached its peak in this sector. The social care sector has been underfunded and under-valued by successive governments and was in a parlous state before the pandemic took hold. The briefing discusses: rates of infections and deaths in social care settings; continuing concerns about lack of adequate PPE provision to both care homes and domiciliary care providers; lack of testing for both care workers and residents/clients and what this means for the safety of social care provision; the additional costs of COVID-19 on local authorities and care providers in an already underfunded and unstable sector; and the lessons that can be learnt.

Last updated on hub: 08 July 2020

Local government efforts to mitigate the novel coronavirus pandemic among older adults

Journal of Aging and Social Policy

As the coronavirus crisis spreads swiftly through the population, it takes a particularly heavy toll on minority individuals and older adults, with older minority adults at especially high risk. Given the shockingly high rates of infections and deaths in nursing homes, staying in the community appears to be a good option for older adults in this crisis, but in order for some older adults to do so much assistance is required. This situation draws attention to the need for benevolent intervention on the part of the state should older adults become ill or lose their sources of income and support during the crisis. This essay provides a brief overview of public support and the financial and health benefits for older individuals who remain in the community during the pandemic. It reports the case example of Austin, Texas, a city with a rapidly aging and diverse population of almost a million residents, to ask how we can assess the success of municipalities in responding to the changing needs of older adults in the community due to COVID-19. It concludes with a discussion of what governmental and non-governmental leadership can accomplish in situations such as that brought about by the current crisis.

Last updated on hub: 31 August 2020

Local responses on supporting care leavers during COVID-19

Department for Education

This document looks at how local authorities are responding to the additional challenges they are facing in supporting care leavers during COVID-19. It sets out key issues and provides examples of local practice identified through consultations with the Department of Education's independent National Implementation Adviser for Care Leavers. Some of the examples were gathered before the Department published operational guidance for Children’s Social Services and before the Education Secretary’s announcement of support for care leavers on 19 April. Issues identified included: loneliness; financial and practical support; accommodation; and providing support to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children.

Last updated on hub: 08 June 2020

Lockdown learnings

My Home Life

A visual mindmap sharing the reflections of care homes staff on their experience of the pandemic and lockdown. The thoughts of 12 care home managers and activity coordinators from the Care Home Friends and Neighbours North West London project were gathered by My Home Life England during online and telephone interviews in the summer of 2020. Staff were asked to reflect on ‘what they could be proud of’ in terms of how their care homes managed during the challenging months of lockdown due to COVID-19. The learnings focus on: preparing for increased role in end of life and supporting bereaved families; maintaining connections between team members; maintaining relationships between residents and relatives; and maintaining and developing community connections.

Last updated on hub: 21 December 2020

Lockdown lessons: what 2020 has to teach us about the difficult weeks ahead

Resolution Foundation

This briefing focuses on the experience of the first Covid-19 lockdown, and what it can teach us about what is to come. Some of the lessons identified are for policy makers, but others are for employers and workers, parents and friends trying to manage through these challenging times. The five lessons are: the inequality of the first lockdown was not just about who saw their work dry up – it was also about the very different lived experience of staying at home; school closures are tough on children, both in the short- and long-term; low-income families often have to spend more in lockdown; mums pay an especially heavy price for school closures – women were almost twice as likely to cut hours of work to care for children than men when schools were closed; many families are entering this lockdown with lower reserves – those with the lowest savings were most likely to draw down on their reserves for everyday costs during the pandemic. The briefing argues that policy needs to respond to this reality, not least by maintaining financial support and scrapping plans to reduce benefits by £1,000 per year in April.

Last updated on hub: 20 January 2021

Lockdown loneliness and anxiety across the generations

The Nuffield Trust

An examination of the impact of lockdown on emotional wellbeing and mental health, by age group, finding that young people tended to fare worse.

Last updated on hub: 19 October 2020

Lockdown, lifelines and the long haul ahead: the impact of Covid-19 on food banks in the Trussell Trust network

The Trussell Trust

Findings from a research project exploring the impact of Covid-19 on food banks in the Trussell Trust network. The data shows that when the pandemic first hit, there was a significant increase in the number of people receiving support from a food bank in the network for the first time – over 50% of people using food banks at the start of the pandemic had never needed one before. In April there was an 89% increase in the number of emergency food parcels given out compared with the same month in 2019. This included a 107% increase in the number of parcels given to children, compared to the same period last year. The study forecasts that there is likely to be a significant rise in levels of destitution in the UK by the end of the year, and at least an extra 300,000 emergency food parcels are likely to be distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network in the last quarter of 2020 – an increase of 61% compared to the previous year. The modelling shows that – depending on factors like the strength of the economy and a second wave of Covid-19 – levels of need could be even higher. As a priority, the report calls for the Government to: protect people’s incomes by locking in the £20 uplift to Universal Credit; help people hold on to more of their benefits by suspending benefit debt deductions until a fairer approach to repayments can be introduced; and make local safety nets as strong as possible by investing £250m in local welfare assistance in England every year.

Last updated on hub: 30 September 2020

Lockdown. Rundown. Breakdown. The COVID-19 lockdown and the impact of poor-quality housing on occupants in the North of England

Northern Housing Consortium

This report has been produced to document the experiences of households living in poor-quality, ‘non-decent’ accommodation in the UK – with a specific focus on households in the North of England – during the height of the UK lockdown. It draws on rapidly produced primary research undertaken between May and July 2020. It involved semi-structured interviews with 40 residents from privately rented housing, ten residents from owner-occupied housing and eight key actors/professionals. The study also used a short survey to capture the views and experiences of people who preferred not to be interviewed. The findings reveal that: households were living with longstanding repair and quality issues – lockdown had ultimately worsened such conditions and impaired people’s ability to live with those conditions; many longstanding repair and quality issues were described as worsening throughout lockdown because social distancing measures prohibited contractors from entering the home; renters were having to draw on their own incomes, savings and credit to cope with the costs associated with their poor conditions, which further entrenched people in the private rented sector; the vast majority of renters had not considered the possibility of asking landlords for rent reductions when questioned during interviews; private renters were under-reporting the repairs that were needed to their homes; overcrowding was an issue most households were experiencing, with entire households living, working and spending time in the same housing space; conversely, people who lived by themselves discussed feeling isolated and lonely in the weeks when contact with family and friends was restricted to online video call facilities. There is an opportunity to learn from the first few months of the COVID-19 lockdown and take urgent action for the short, medium and long term to ensure that the housing crisis, which has been so frequently identified, does not lead to systemic or personal breakdown.

Last updated on hub: 10 November 2020