Falling between the cracks - the experiences of young parents on Universal Credit

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Those who become parents at a young age are more likely to have disadvantaged backgrounds such as growing up in low income families or to have experiences of being in care, which means they are more likely to face challenges as they become adults and parents. Despite the disadvantages many young parents face, they are neglected in UK policy, especially in relation to their experiences of the social security system where they receive lower levels of financial support from the state compared with older parents. This article draws on in-depth interview data at two points in time with nine young parents under the age of 25 claiming Universal Credit (drawn from a large sample of couples receiving Universal Credit). The findings show they faced extreme financial disadvantage, housing difficulties and problematic interactions with Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) staff and social services which impacted on their awareness and access to benefits. This article also explores the role of policy, poverty and power in influencing age related experiences of social security.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Early online date9 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council: Grant Number ES/R004811/1.


  • Poverty
  • Social security
  • Universal Credit
  • Young parents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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