Families in Cornwall who were “just about managing” before the Covid-19 pandemic are now unable to cope with the financial and emotional pressures they are under.

This is the view of Cornwall Council’s children and family services team, which said that the impact of Covid had been felt most by vulnerable people in Cornwall.

Ben Davies, service director for children and families, said that Cornwall had been contributing to research by the Government into the impact of Covid on families.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s children and families overview and scrutiny committee this week he said: “There is well established and growing evidence on the impact of the pandemic. A combination of factors has increased pressure on some families.

“There has been financial pressures caused by furlough and the increased cost of living, there have also been issues of isolation with support from agencies and the community in general being disrupted.

“People’s emotional wellbeing has also been affected and people have found it difficult to focus on their personal health.

“There is clear evidence both nationally and in Cornwall that the most vulnerable families have been most affected by the pandemic. Families that had been just getting by and keeping well haven’t had the resilience and have suffered from the pressures that the pandemic has borne.

“As a result we have had families coming back to us for help and increased the demand on our services. Families who were, before the pandemic, doing quite well have now deteriorated.”

There have been concerns that as well as the pressure of the pandemic vulnerable families have been affected by the housing crisis as well as the cut in the uplift to Universal Credit.

A report to the committee explained further: “The most vulnerable families have been disproportionately impacted by the consequences of the pandemic and have found it most difficult to cope.

“Research on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on low income families and on child and adolescent and parent/carer mental health confirm that the pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges for those living in poverty, with disabilities and special educational needs, and with mental health issues.

“The Social Mobility Commission State of the Nation report 2021 found that disadvantaged young people and children living in poverty have been hardest hit by Covid-19 and face long term consequences.”

It continued: “This means that many families who were ‘just about managing’ before the pandemic now are not.

“Families are experiencing increased pandemic-related pressures, including financial difficulties, increased anxiety and stress, a loss of structure and social contact, and reduced access to support services, which has led to increases in demand (and therefore costs) for the council’s children’s social care services.”