25 Nov 2015

Responding to the Chancellor’s Spending Review, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

'The Chancellor has made the right decision in abandoning his plans to cut tax credits for working families. Children would have been the biggest losers had these deeply unfair cuts gone ahead and we welcome this reversal. 

'But while the Chancellor has done the right thing by dropping these cuts today, he also needs to do the right thing tomorrow. Too many struggling low-income families are already stretched to the limit.

'The Government is planning, through its Welfare Reform and Work Bill, to prevent parents from getting tax credit support for more than two children. It is also freezing working-age benefits for the next four years, and increasing the number of families hit by the benefit cap.

'Further cuts and freezes would push children into poverty and make everyday family life much harder.'

Despite protecting tax credits the Government is planning to press ahead with planned cuts to Universal Credit. Since most working families will be in receipt of Universal Credit rather than tax credits by 2020, this means that the Government will still be making substantial cuts to the welfare budget in the longer term. Further into the future, risks to support for low-income working families remain. The Children’s Society will continue to raise our concerns about this.

Warm Homes Discount

The Chancellor’s guarantee of funding for the Warm Homes Discount (WHD) for the next five years will help provide a vital £140 discount for families struggling with their energy bills. However, more needs to be done to make sure people can access it. In the winter of 2013/14 we estimate that 1.9 million children were living in families who missed out on the Warm Home Discount. It is vital that families in fuel poverty are automatically able to receive the discount, rather than having to apply for the discount directly.

Mental Health

The announcement of £600m additional funding for mental health services is timely but we need to know how much of this will be made available to support children, who we know through our research currently face long waiting times and serious challenges accessing specialist support. The Government should also do more to improve access to meet the needs of vulnerable teenagers.

Free School Meals

We welcome the continuation of funding for free school meals for all infant children, following rumours over the past few months that the funding was at risk. Free school meals are a critical lifeline for families facing hardship and our analysis showed that under previous arrangements many tens of thousands of infants living in poverty were missing out. Every child in poverty must be able to benefit from a free school meal.

Media enquiries

For more information or an interview, please call The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to Editors

The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.