29 Oct 2018

Responding to today’s Budget, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said:

“While the Government has taken some important steps in the right direction it has still not done enough to address serious problems with Universal Credit which are causing hardship for many families.

“Increases to support for people in work and additional help for many claimants moving across to the new system are welcome.  However, without further support for families affected by delayed payments, including new benefit claimants, many parents and children will continue to be left in a desperate situation, having to resort to foodbanks in some cases.

“In addition, the emergency loan for families affected by a lengthy wait for their first payment should be replaced with a grant so families are not immediately plunged into debt.

“It’s really disappointing the four-year benefits freeze remains in place, and that we haven’t seen more action to address cuts under Universal Credit for young parents, those who are severely disabled and those who have disabled children.

On help with family debt, Mr Reed said:

“Problem debt can have a significant impact on children’s happiness and well-being, so it is positive news that the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to introduce a ‘breathing space’ scheme and that they have listened to calls to ensure the scheme covers debts to local councils and the government.

“However, it can take several months to finalise a repayment plan so we would urge the Government to ensure the 60-day breathing space period can be extended when necessary.

“A pilot of an interest-free loans scheme for struggling families is also welcome.  But with £240m per year of interest free credit Government loans for struggling families having been cut since 2010, we would urge ministers to introduce new help as quickly as possible and ensure that all families who need this support can access it.”

On the announcement of £84m extra cash for children’s social care, Mr Reed said:

“While it is a start, this cash is just a drop in the ocean compared to the estimated £3bn shortfall facing children’s services by 2025.

“This funding gap means councils are increasingly unable to provide vital early support for families and children to prevent problems arising and getting worse - both they and the public purse will pay a heavy price in the long run without urgent action to address this situation.”

Media enquiries

For more information, please contact Senior Media Officer Rob Devey on 07814 525918 or rob.devey@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.