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Tuesday 22nd
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

Families struggling amid benefit freeze and cuts

FROZEN benefits, inflation and tax credit cuts are leaving low-income parents without enough cash to look after their children, a “deeply disturbing” study found yesterday.

Child Poverty Action Group research shows that working couples earning the National Living Wage are £59 a week short of the amount needed to provide their kids with the bare essentials.

The gap between what families have and what they need is even starker for unemployed single and out-of-work parents who suffer a shortfall of £187 a week and £146 a week respectively.

The costs required to bring up a child until the age of 18 rose 4 per cent to £75,436 for a couple in the year to April.

Tax credits and child benefi ts have not risen since 2015, meaning that as prices rise with inflation state payments are increasingly failing to cover the costs of raising children.

Government cuts mean child benefit plus child tax credits now covers just 94 per cent of the basic cost of a child, falling from 98 per cent last year.

CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham warned of “damaging consequences for children” and said that with rising inflation “the benefits freeze has become toxic for struggling families.”

“The cost of raising children is rising but for the first time in decades support for families is not keeping pace,” she said.

“The result is a yawning gap between what ordinary families need for a no-frills living standard and what they actually have.”

The benefits freeze has resulted in a loss of £7.30 per week for the first child and £5.80 per week each for the second and third child.

Ms Garnham urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to end the freeze and rebalance the finances of ordinary people.

Bishops also came forward yesterday to demand that the government urgently review its cap on child benefits in response to the study.

The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev Rachel Treweek, said: “With rising inflation, it is time to reconsider this policy in order to protect the living standards of the poorest families.”

And the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, said: “We know that the first years of life are the most critical for the life chances of every child. So this report is deeply disturbing.”

The government said it has introduced benefit and tax reforms along with the National Living Wage to make sure it pays to be in work.