Children are the forgotten victims of this political battle
Today’s debate in the House of Commons on the welfare benefit up-rating bill is just one of a raft of cuts that will hit children hard. In capping the up-rating of key benefits at 1% for the next three years, this will, by the government’s own admission, push an additional 200,000 children into poverty.
We must be clear that this is not a debate about 'strivers versus skivers'. It is about what these benefit changes mean for children and families across the UK. People in work and those out of work will be affected. The majority have children.
The working families and children who will lose out
Among professionals, we estimate, some 300,000 nurses and midwives, 150,000 primary school teachers, 44,000 electricians and electrical fitters and 42,000 armed forces personnel will lose out as a result of the changes.
Two-thirds of families affected by the bill – over six million – have children. A nurse with two children could lose £424 a year and an army corporal, with three children and earning £619 per week, will lose about £550 a year by 2015.
Lone parents are among those who will be hardest hit – 95% of lone parent families will be affected by the bill and will suffer the highest average loss.
Children must not pay the price for government cuts
The failure to increase support for children and families to keep pace with the cost of living will mean that millions up and down the country will see their budgets further squeezed. Families that are already struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes, pay rent and afford other basics.
We recognise that this is a time of austerity. But cutting vital support for children is not right.
Some key benefits being cut - such as child tax credit, child benefit and the child elements of Universal Credit - support parents with the costs of raising a child. They are also an investment in our society’s future.
Child poverty’s effects are far-reaching and long-lasting. If the government fails to invest in our children now, the costs we will face in the future will be far greater, for the individuals affected and our society as a whole.
We urge MPs from all parties to make sure the political debate around welfare reform is constructive. Cool heads and rational thinking need to prevail over political calculation and campaigning.
We urge the government to reconsider this bill and make sure that children are protected.
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