Our analysis of Covid-19 data from Buttle UK

Our analysis below is based on data from the charity Buttle UK, who give grants to support children and young people in crisis throughout the UK. The following analysis has been carried out looking at data for England only. In summary, it looks at around 850-1,000 applications made by local authorities to the ‘Domestic Abuse’; ‘Estranged Young People’ and ‘Kinship Care’ programmes and the resultant 450-600 awarded ‘Chances for Children’ grants (of up to £2000). All the analysis below is based on data between January-May 2019 and January-May 2020.

We have identified some key themes and issues from analysing this data set on our interactive Covid-19 data dashboard. These examples are intended to show you what we can learn from even smaller charities’ data, boosting our understanding of the changing issues charities are tackling and the wider picture of the Covid-19 crisis in this country.

Covid-19 has increased the number of applications

Between January and May 2020, Buttle UK have recorded a 14% increase in applications, compared to the January-May period in 2019. However, if we look at just the three months following the announcement of lockdown in the UK (March, April, May) we see a larger increase, of around 23%. This includes an oddity in March, where applications dropped (March 2020 was down 25% on March 2019)—this was caused by Buttle UK expending its funding and coming to the end of its financial year and, therefore, discouraging applications for this short period of time.

Increase in demand by programme, 2019-2020
(sample size: 2019-851, 2020-973)

graph shows Increase in demand by programme, 2019-2020

Still, the UK lockdown period shows a year on year increase in applications, and one which is rapidly accelerating with applications in April up 39% and May up 57%.

The sample size, along with operational factors at Buttle UK, make it hard to draw meaningful conclusions from the data on how different places in England are affected. We can see big year on year changes in Kent, Birmingham, and Hartlepool, areas where high demand across Buttle UK’s programmes already existed. Birmingham saw a 57% increase in applications on 2019 (the sample size was above 50), Kent 55% (from 33 applications to 51) and Hartlepool 54% (from 13 applications to 20).

Additionally, there have been applications submitted by five ‘new’ local authorities, which did not submit applications last year. 13 local authorities went from single to double digit numbers of applications.

The proportion of ‘White’ applicants dropped and ‘Black or Black British’ applicants received a below average increase in acceptances

Buttle UK collects the socio-demographic data of the applicant and their household members. People identifying as ‘White’ represent the majority of individuals seeking support (55% in the period 2020, 62% in the period 2019).  Other ethnic groups include ‘Black or Black British’ (18% of applicants in 2020), ‘Asian or Asian British’ (7% of applicants in 2020), ‘Mixed’ (10% of applicants in 2020), ‘Other’ (8% of applicants in 2020), and ‘Not disclosed’ (2% of applicants in 2020).

Against the backdrop of an overall increase in acceptances (up 28% in the period 2020), the data is showing that ‘Asian or Asian British’ applicants saw a 78% increase in successful applications (from 41 in 2019 up to 73 in 2020), ‘Other’ applicants saw a 68% increase (from 35 in 2019 up to 57). ‘White’ applicants saw a below average 21% increase in 2020, and ‘Black and Black British’ and ‘Mixed’ applicants saw significantly below average increases of 14% and 18% respectively.

Rise in applications by victims of domestic abuse

The sizes of the three programmes we analysed, ‘Domestic Abuse’, ‘Estranged Young People’ and ‘Kinship Care’, are very different. Domestic abuse is the largest and made up 66% of the grants that were awarded in England during the period 2020 (and 61% of the applications).

The overall increase in applications to Buttle UK in the period 2020 has partly been driven by a 25% rise in applications received under the ‘Domestic Abuse’ programme, and there has been a corresponding 34% rise in grants awarded.

It is difficult to do even a regional analysis (i.e., above local authority level) of this increase in domestic abuse applications due to Buttle UK taking on a funded programme for domestic abuse in the West Midlands area and some staff changeover temporarily reduced their outreach in the North and South West in 2019. These factors have a potential confounding impact on those regions but we note that applications relating to domestic abuse were greatly up in regions of the South of England, up 91% in the South West (though there is a very small sample size, the increase is 22 applications in 2019 up to 42 applications in 2020) and 115% in the South East (again there is a small sample, 34 applications in 2019 up to 73 applications in 2020).

Increase in demand for all programmes by region, 2019-2020

graph shows increase in demand for all programmes by region, 2019-2020

We are also able to analyse the ethnicity of applicants within this strand of work. We need to stress here that at times the sample sizes are quite small, and there are potentially many confounding factors (not least the geographical ones mentioned above) which may account for these findings.

Buttle UK saw an increase in applications in 2020 referencing domestic abuse from those reporting as ‘White’ by 23%, ‘Black or Black British’ by 22%, ‘Asian or Asian British’ by 63% (although this is 46 applications in 2019 up to 75 in 2020), and ‘Other’ by 61% (28 applications in 2019 up to 45 in 2020). ‘Mixed’ saw a reduction, 57 applications in 2019 down to 51 in 2020.

Lost time in education will be paid for eventually

Bucking the overall trend, ‘Estranged Young People’ applications have reduced by 16% in the period 2020 (grants awarded were also down by 21%). Buttle UK have explained that the decrease is due to the heavy focus this programme has on access to education, training and employment. With schools, colleges, universities and many businesses being closed, this means that support workers have shifted their attention to the emotional and housing needs of estranged young people (EYPs), with less focus on getting them into college or training programmes. The lockdown has meant these kinds of grants are less appropriate at this time.

While the focus may not be on schools at this moment in time, when these young people return to education they will need extensive support to catch up, and with no details about how this will be coordinated at a national level yet available, charities like Buttle UK may be called on to plug the gap.

Types of family

The majority of applicants (70% in the period 2020) were ‘Single Parents’. Applications from ‘Single Parents’ over 21, a subgroup, have gone up by 25% in the period 2020, whereas there has been a fall in applications from two parent households by 25%.

Guardians of children, an extremely small proportion of applications recorded in 2019, have seen their applications rise by 167% in 2020 (from 16 applications to 42). This is a level roughly equivalent to that of two parent households. This increase is likely driven by increased knowledge of, and outreach by, Buttle’s ‘Kinship Care’ programme, which provides grants specifically to grandparents and adult relatives providing care. Buttle UK provide support in this area due to a lack of statutory support for this group. Applications for the ‘Kinship Care’ programme have increased by 52% in 2020.

Large increases in at risk adults

The issues faced by Buttle UK applicants are multiple, co-occurring and often complex. Under any one programme; there can be over 50 different reasons why applicants may be applying for funding, or risk factors that can exacerbate their need. We grouped these reasons for application in categories: 1) ‘Youth Mental, Physical and Learning Needs’ 2) ‘Exploited Youth’ 3) ‘Youth Carers’ 4) ‘Other Issues Facing the Child at Home and School’ 5) ‘Broader Situational Risk Factors’ 6) ‘At Risk Adults Affecting Children’s Status’. These categories are non-exclusive and some individuals may appear under multiple headings.

While we see increases in demand across all categories over the January to May periods 2019 to 2020, there is significant variation. ‘Other Issues Facing the Child at Home and School’ saw a 46% increase in overall demand (275 applications in 2019 and 402 applications in 2020); with an 88% increase in applications to the ‘Domestic Abuse’ programme.

Reasons for applications in this grouping include isolation and lack of support; difficulties with family members; as well as offending and / or challenging behaviour by youth in the home. What is noteworthy, is that demand had risen across this risk factor prior to Covid-19, with there being a 116% increase from January 2019 to January 2020, albeit with a small number (25 applications up to 54).

Increase in demand for applications by reason, 2019-2020

graph shows increase in demand for applications by reason, 2019-2020

The second highest increase was for At Risk Adults, which saw a 38% increase in applications (331 applications in 2019 up to 457 in 2020). This appears to be driven by applications to the ‘Domestic Abuse’ programme; which saw a 64% rise in applications. Risk factors underneath the At Risk Adults categorisation include domestic abuse (when it is not in the domestic abuse programme), family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse by the parent, as well as a range of parent physical and mental health difficulties.

Thank you to Buttle UK. NPC’s Covid-19 data for charities and funders is supported by the Health Foundation.

NPC are analysing the data on their interactive Covid-19 dashboard. Take a look at these trends they have identified by comparing 2019 and 2020 charity demand data Click To Tweet


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