Cost of wel­fare cuts re­vealed

The Church of England - - FRONT PAGE - By Amaris Cole

NURSES, TEACH­ERS and those in the armed forces will be the fam­i­lies worst hit by pro­posed child wel­fare re­forms, a ma­jor Chris­tian or­gan­i­sa­tion is claim­ing.

The Chil­dren’s So­ci­ety pre­dicts 11.5 mil­lion chil­dren will be af­fected by the Wel­fare-Up Bill, in­tro­duced to Par­lia­ment last week and was voted in favour of be­ing sent for Sec­ond Read­ing by a ma­jor­ity of MPs.

The plan is to cap the up-rat­ing of ben­e­fits to 1 per cent over the next three years, as op­posed to in­creas­ing the amount in line with in­fla­tion, as is cus­tom­ary.

The Chil­dren’s So­ci­ety Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Matthew Reed, has re­acted to the lat­est Wel­fare Up-rat­ing Bill, say­ing: “If this bill is passed, it will make it much harder for mil­lions of chil­dren and fam­i­lies across the coun­try to make ends meet.”

But the Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary, Iain Dun­can Smith, said the mea­sure was de­signed to en­sure that ben­e­fits do not rise faster than wages.

He said that in­comes for work­ers have risen by about 12 per cent com­pared with 20 per cent for those on ben­e­fits since the start of the re­ces­sion.

This new law af­fects all those re­ceiv­ing child ben­e­fit or child tax credit in the UK and the Chil­dren’s So­ci­ety says many of those who will be af­fected are those who work.

The char­ity es­ti­mates 150,000 pri­mary school teach­ers, 40,000 armed forces per­son­nel and 300,000 nurses and mid­wives will be hit.

Mr Reed said: “Re­cent cuts have al­ready forced huge num­bers of fam­i­lies to tighten their belt. Many more will strug­gle to pay for food, heat their homes, and pro­vide other ba­sics for their chil­dren as they find it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to keep up with ris­ing prices.

“From a nurse with two chil­dren los­ing £424 a year by 2015, to the army sec­ond lieu­tenant with three chil­dren los­ing £552 a year, this will hit chil­dren and fam­i­lies from all walks of life.

“The government needs ur­gently to re­con­sider this bill. Fail­ure to make sure that ben­e­fit rates at the very least re­flect rises in the cost of liv­ing will deepen in­equal­ity and in­crease poverty.”

The Chil­dren’s So­ci­ety claims this bill will be the di­rect cause of many more fam­i­lies be­ing pushed into poverty.

CSAN, Caritas So­cial Ac­tion Net­work, has also warned that cap­ping ben­e­fit in­creases sig­nif­i­cantly be­low in­fla­tion will ‘hurt the poor­est in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies in our so­ci­ety’.

As the so­cial ac­tion arm of the Catholic Church in Eng­land and Wales, CSAN sent a strongly worded state­ment to the government as the bill was de­bated.

Arch­bishop Vin­cent Ni­chols called for par­lia­men­tar­i­ans to ‘en­sure a safety net is al­ways in place to pro­tect es­sen­tials such as food and shel­ter for those who fall on hard times’.

CARE spoke out against an­other re­form ex­pected to af­fect fam­i­lies in the poorer half of in­come distri­bu­tion, the Higher In­come Child Ben­e­fit Charge.

The char­ity as­serts that the Prime Min­is­ter is wrong in his claims that only the top 15 per cent will be hit, claim­ing fam­i­lies in the top 70, 80 and 90 per cent will keep their ben­e­fits while oth­ers miss out.

CARE has com­piled fig­ures demon­strat­ing that a one-earner fam­ily with three chil­dren on £50,000 is in the top 51 per cent and that at £60,000 they are only in the top 58 per cent. In­deed a one-earner fam­ily with four chil­dren on £50,000 is ac­tu­ally in the poorer half of the in­come distri­bu­tion.

CARE as­sert that David Cameron must have been ‘very badly ad­vised’ if he ‘gen­uinely be­lieves this pol­icy’.

Dan Boucher, CARE’s Di­rec­tor of Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs, said: “This child ben­e­fit prob­lem can­not be dis­missed on the ba­sis that when­ever there are changes there are win­ners and losers.

“That would be true if the Government had in­tro­duced a pol­icy that re­sulted in those fam­i­lies in the top 15 per cent of the in­come distri­bu­tion los­ing their child ben­e­fit. Those in the top 15 per cent would be the losers.

“Sadly the Higher In­come Child Ben­e­fit Charge does not have this ef­fect.

“It makes the tough sit­u­a­tion that one-earner fam­i­lies al­ready find them­selves in this coun­try even tougher, whilst in­tro­duc­ing no com­pa­ra­ble bur­den for two-earner fam­i­lies.

“It con­se­quently punishes those in the mid­dle of the in­come distri­bu­tion, whilst let­ting oth­ers on the sev­enth, eighth and ninth deciles get away with no ad­di­tional tax bur­den.”

Both the Higher In­come Child Ben­e­fit Charge and the Wel­fare-Up Bill have en­joyed wide sup­port in Par­lia­ment, and groups fear they will soon be­come law.

Ben­e­fit cuts 'will see more chil­dren taken into care'

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