Cost of welfare cuts revealed
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'