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BASW blog: 'Why social workers should support the #KeepTheLifeline campaign'

As a social worker, BASW vice-chair Lewis Roberts sees rising poverty levels and the devastating impact this is having on society

We are living in unprecedented times - it all feels relentless – over a decade of austerity politics and a global pandemic is a combination too cruel to fully comprehend.

The picture from social work practice is one of under-funded services, exhausted practitioners, and communities at breaking point.

As a local authority social worker, practicing in the north east of England, my colleagues and I observe the devastating impact that poverty and deprivation can have on children and families. The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges of day-to-day life for many, but in particular those within low-income families.

'The challenge of caring for children on a low income cannot be overstated'

Social workers in regions like the north east of England are observing people’s living standards decline and people struggling to find work, and when they do it is often poorly paid and insecure.

The challenge of caring for children on a low income cannot be overstated. In practice we observe more and more families having to survive by accessing food banks, parents having to go without food so their children can eat, and families unable to afford gas and electricity for the home.

We see stark inequalities within the economic and social conditions in which people live and too often we see families existing in destitution. The UK should be a country where everyone has the chance of a healthy, decent, and secure life regardless of who they are and where they are, but tragically this is not the case – too many children and families are forced to survive a precarious and fragile existence.    

As a social worker, I endeavour to uphold the global definition of social work practice, drawing on principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility, and respect for diversities. I am passionate about the need to eradicate poverty and believe that social workers have a role in challenging injustice. As a member of the North East Child Poverty Commission (NECPC), representing BASW, I am honoured to work alongside other anti-poverty campaigners. NECPC is a stakeholder network that believes all children should have an equal chance in life.


Government plans to cut £20 a week to Universal Credit will have a devastating impact on millions of children in low-income families. Child poverty can no longer be ignored - the government must act now, not only to reverse the planned cut to Universal Credit, but also to ensure children and families are supported to thrive within their local communities.

As social workers we know the everyday impact that poverty has on people. We must oppose the Government’s cuts to Universal Credit – use BASW's templates to write to your MP and Government Ministers and fight for the rights of low-income children and families to live with decency and dignity.