CHILDREN from low-income families are being left hungry and shivering as their parents resort to cutting down on food and heating, a new study revealed yesterday.
New research by Manchester University showed that the government’s policy of slashing housing benefit had left parents £572 poorer a year.
Data collected from parents and school representatives also revealed that children from families affected by the bedroom tax and cuts to other benefits find it harder to focus on their school work and suffer from emotional distress.
Professor Ruth Lupton said the findings provided confirmation of the bedroom tax “failing to meet its original aims while contributing to significant hardship among low-income families.
“Our study suggests that the pressure put on families by this cut in benefits may also be working contrary to other policies that are intended to support child well-being and educational achievement, diminishing their effectiveness.”
According to the research, children made to share bedrooms under the new law were particularly badly affected as this left them without a quiet place to do their homework or sleep undisturbed.
To survive, parents were found to be spending less on food, heating and other essentials such as winter clothes, shoes and school uniforms.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which is responsible for the policy, claimed the study was “unrepresentative” and “misleading.”
A DWP spokesman said: “It is wrong that under the previous system taxpayers had to subsidise benefit claimants to live in houses that are larger than they require.
“Removing the spare-room subsidy has restored fairness to the system and ensures people on benefits make the same choices as everyone else.”
The policy has been offset in Scotland by a £90 million investment from Holyrood, and authorities say they will axe the tax when they have the powers to do so.
SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said the findings were “yet further evidence of the terrible impact the Tories’ bedroom tax is having south of the border, not only pushing more people into poverty but preventing children in England and Wales from reaching their full potential.”