Our social security lifeline: Is it strong enough?

In a national crisis or ‘normal times’, people need our social security system to be a reliable lifeline - but it's failing to protect families, or give them the stability needed to escape poverty.

Our social security system should protect families from harm, keeping their heads above water, but families' different circumstances can make it complicated to get a complete picture of how well social security does this. This briefing pulls a range of indicators together to assess the adequacy more clearly:

  • Section 1 looks at key outcome indicators of inadequacy, from large surveys by DWP and academics.
  • Section 2 views six illustrative families on UC and compares their incomes to three ‘yardsticks’: destitution, poverty and the Minimum Income Standard (MIS). The Appendix contains general assumptions used for our illustrative families.
  • Section 3 briefly considers income replacement levels, including making international comparisons.

This gives a consistent picture of an inadequate system that is failing to protect families, or give them the stability needed to escape poverty.

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