Commenting on George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith’s proposal that unemployed families should have their benefits capped if they have more children, Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:
“With this abhorrent proposal, the Chancellor is saying that some children will be marked out from birth as second class citizens with their lives worth less than others.
“We were told it would be those with the broadest shoulders who have the greatest burden, but the richest are getting tax cuts and it is those with the narrowest shoulders, our poorest children, who are being made to pay the price.
“It ignores the fact that most unemployed parents are going through a revolving door in and out of work due to lack of job security. We need to address the growing problems of short-term and insecure jobs and the crisis of high youth unemployment instead of punishing people for their deprivation.
“The Chancellor is utterly wrong to claim that families out of work are better off having more children. If a family without work has another child, the shortfall relative to a family’s minimum need increases and parents must make even more sacrifices to meet their children’s needs. But working families do better because on top of wages they can get in-work benefits like tax credits and housing benefit.”
Notes to Editors
- CPAG and Joseph Rowntree Foundation published new research on the costs of children and benefit adequacy in The cost of a child in the twenty-first century, September 2012 (available at https://cpag.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/report/cost-child-2012). This shows that a family with one child where all adults are unemployed have a shortfall of £177.82 a week between their benefits and their minimum needs; with two children this increases to £193.71 a week; with three children the shortfall is £213.32 a week; and a family with four children have a shortfall of £226.60 a week (see Figure 2, p 47).
- The distinction drawn by the Chancellor between self-supporting working families and benefit dependent workless families is false. The most recent child poverty statistics show that 60% of children who live in poverty have at least one working parent. Working families who do not earn sufficient amounts are eligible, for example, for tax credits, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
- The distinction between working and non-working families is false as most JSA claimants are back in work within a few months. Benefits data published by DWP shows that almost 60% of JSA claimants are back in within 3 months and almost 80% cease claiming in 6 months. The greater problem is the lack of job security, with temporary contracts and zero hour contracts increasingly common. The Chancellor has also argued for it to be easier for employers to fire people, which will worsen job security for parents.
- The Treasury has published analysis showing that distribution of tax and benefit changes under the Coalition government is broadly regressive, with the poorest deciles generally facing a bigger burden as a proportion of their income than the wealthier deciles. For more details see:
- CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children. CPAG is also the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty, which has over 150 member organisations and is campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.
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