If families fighting to stay above the poverty line go shopping this week and find the money in their purse does not go as far as it did before, then this Budget will have failed to protect the poorest in our society. After today’s announcements this is a distinct possibility.
Like everyone else, The Children's Society knows cuts are inevitable and times are hard. But fairness in wielding the axe is crucial if we are to protect the most vulnerable children in our communities. We believe the new Government has tried to be fair. The Chancellor claimed this Budget will not increase child poverty, but sadly we believe we are still in danger of creating the 'new poor'. Tax breaks for low income families are clearly welcome, but hiking up VAT to 20%, ending payments like the health in pregnancy grant and slashing child tax credits at a £40k joint income threshold are all going to put pressure on a lot of families already struggling to make ends meet. The freezing of child benefit for three years is a big blow for very vulnerable families. We are also concerned about the amount to be clawed back from the Welfare Bill over the next 5 years as the Chancellor aims to find savings of £40 billion.
Government has effectively handed the axe to local authorities to make swingeing cuts at local level, but The Children's Society believes central Government should still play a key role in monitoring the impact nationally on those living on the margins of society whose voices are often not heard.
The Children's Society also regrets the lack of 'ring-fenced' funding for certain key services. Cuts in services to children should only be selected by local authorities after consultation with communities and should involve the voluntary sector wherever possible. For families with very young children we strongly encourage Government to promote a wide range of services in children’s centres. Services like this have made a real difference and can have a life-changing impact on some of the most disadvantaged children and families in our society.
Response from Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive, The Children's Society
For further detailed information, or to request an interview with Bob Reitemeier, please contact Rafi Cooper, Media Officer, The Children's Society, 0207 841 4526 or Rafi.firstname.lastname@example.org.