For a Prime Minister who walked into Downing Street decrying the ‘burning injustice’ of poverty and contrasting the opportunities available to some children but not others, there was a disappointing omission in last week’s budget: child poverty.
Broken promises: What has happened to support for low-income working families under universal credit
Today’s Guardian covered new analysis by CPAG and IPPR on the impact of cuts to universal credit. This analysis shows that universal credit cuts will hit families with children hardest, and will be poverty-producing to the tune of around a million children (comparing universal credit as originally designed with its current form).
Today sees the benefit cap – the limit on total benefits which households can receive if no-one works at least 16 hours a week – fall from £26,000 a year to £20,000, or £23,000 in London. The 20,000 or so families currently capped will see their housing benefit reduced overnight by £500 or £250 a month, starting from today. That’s a huge amount to expect people to find from their other income, but most will have to do that or risk losing their home. For new households, the cap will be introduced in phases starting with local authorities with the fewest affected households and finishing with those with the most (such as Birmingham) in February 2017.
It’s a public policy reform that has the potential to help the Government to solve two major policy headaches – improving access to affordable childcare for working parents and helping schools cut the attainment gap between richer and poorer children – but the number of extended schools remains inadequate.