Sunday, 31 March 2013

So much for 'family values' ... Tories make families £1000 worse off this year

The sharpest set of social security cuts come into force tomorrow, 1 April. There's a comprehensive look at those changes here.

But one thing that has gone under-remarked is how hard the Tories are hitting families in the budget cuts. In year one, they abolished the sure start maternity grant which gave £500 to low income families having a baby.

They also abolished the Health in Pregnancy grant which gave £190 to pregnant women to help with living healthily during pregnancy.

Once baby is born then parents will be entitled to maternity and paternity allowance. But the annual uprating due to occur on 1 April is capped at 1%. So it increasesonly to £136.78 instead of £139.92 if it had been uprated by RPI inflation. So for a couple taking 39 weeks maternity allowance and 2 weeks paternity allowance, the government is in real terms taking away nearly £130.

Child benefit was until January this year a universal benefit - a gift from society to parents to help with the additional cost of bringing up the next generation. That ended if either parent has an income of over £50,000. But even for those who are not high earners, the government has it in for you.

For the past three years, child benefit has been frozen at £20.30 (for the first child) and £13.40 (for all subsequent children). If these had been uprated by RPI inflation for the last three years then from tomorrow the new rates would be £23.01 and £15.19.

So a family with one child will be £141 worse off this year, and a family with two children £234 worse off.

This of course is all before any calculation including the benefits cap; capped rates of jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance, tax credits and other benefits; extra liability for council tax; bedroom tax; reduced local housing allowance, etc

A low income family having their first child will be at least £961 worse off this year due to the benefit changes made by this government.

It's little wonder that the Child Poverty Action Group calculates that an additional 200,000 Children will be living in poverty this year, rising to an extra 1 million by 2020.

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