The UK is in the grip of a living costs crisis. Nearly one in three children in the UK live in poverty – and rates are set to rise to their highest level since the 1990s by the end of this parliament.

Families with children are particularly vulnerable to rapid inflation. This is due to their additional food and fuel needs. However, emergency income support offered so far has been flat rate – meaning each eligible household has received the same cash payment, regardless of household size. Millions more people have been pulled into debt and arrears in recent months and a growing number of children are going hungry as families are unable to meet basic costs.

At the same time, families with children are increasingly feeling the impact of punitive universal credit policies, as the combined impact of the unadjusted benefit cap and the two-child limit are pulling more families into deeper poverty.

In this report, in partnership with the TUC and CPAG, we make the case for additional household support, combined with revenue raising measures. Instead of further ad hoc support, families need certainty with which to plan for the winter ahead, and into next year.

Our social security system can and should play a significant role in limiting hardship this winter, and in offering a lifeline to families for the future. This short paper sets out options to achieve that through reforms to universal credit and child benefit and their potential impacts.