The Children's Society's response to the Chancellor’s speech on benefit changes

02 April 2013

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

'The government says with its welfare changes it wants people receiving benefits to make the same tough choices made by people in work. The government must face the facts. Low-income families – working and non-working alike – are all being hit by tax and benefit changes and are all being forced to make tough choices every day.

'The government’s commitment to making work pay is the right thing to do. The majority of children growing up in poverty are in working families struggling to make ends meet. Low paid work often simply isn’t enough to meet the rising costs of living, and benefits are vital to topping-up family budgets.

'Raising the personal allowance of income tax may sound like it will help these families, but in reality, the government is simply giving with one hand and taking away with another. For many this means the majority of any gain will be lost from their Housing and Council Tax Benefits.  For some tax payers, ‘the largest tax cut in a generation’ will mean an overall gain of as little as just 80p a week.

'And the government’s own figures show that changes to benefits, Tax Credits, and income tax are actually making the poorest third of households an average of around £200 worse off a year. Vast numbers of children in working families on the lowest incomes are being pushed deeper into poverty.

'It is children who will suffer from the government’s failure to protect them from cuts to welfare.  The government urgently needs to recognise that it is poverty -- not benefits -- that blights children’s futures.'

Ends

Media enquiries

For more information, please call Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422, 07775 812 357 or email beth.herzfeld@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors:

• 3.6 million children in the UK are living in poverty
• Six in 10 children living in poverty are in low-income working families.
• Many of the lowest income families will gain little or nothing from changes to personal allowances for income tax introduced this year.  Many families receiving housing benefit and council tax benefit will gain less than 80p a week as a result of changes to personal allowances introduced this year.
• The government has admitted that by limiting benefit rises to 1% will alone push 200,000 children into poverty over the next three years.
• Limiting benefit rises to 1% via the Welfare Benefit Uprating Bill will affect 300,000 nurses, 150,000 primary school teachers, 40,000 armed forces personnel.
• Use our child poverty calculator to see impact of benefit uprating cap on children
• Major changes to the welfare system, including localisation of council tax benefit and the introduction of a benefit cap for out-of-work households are already being introduced this year.  Many of the changes will have a substantial impact on crucial support needed for children and families.
• The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.