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In this briefing paper, we set out the findings relating to experiences of social security from the first three months of the project. Drawing on 116 reflections from 32 Covid Realities participants, this paper addresses the lived experience of social security amid Covid-19 and examines the impact of recent government changes to social security on families in receipt of benefits. The key themes addressed here are: the daily work of getting by on social security amid rising family costs during Covid-19; the variable impact of the £20 weekly increase in Universal Credit; enduring problems caused by the five week wait for Universal Credit; the pause and return of conditionality; contact with advisors during Covid-19; and the continued stigmatisation of benefit receipt.

We close by setting out key recommendations for change – recommendations which are both grounded in the lived experiences documented here and drawn from discussions with participants themselves.

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