More than sixty major family and children’s charities, advice organisations, academics, unions and faith leaders have written to the Chancellor calling for a £10 per child weekly uplift in child benefit to help families through the COVID-19 crisis.
The signatories – including Child Poverty Action Group, Barnardo's, The Trussell Trust, The Children’s Society and Women’s Aid - welcome the steps taken so far to support household incomes during the pandemic, but say low-income families need more help with meeting children’s needs and unexpected costs while schools are closed.
“We are calling for emergency support for children to ensure all parents can cover the basic costs of raising their children in the face of reduced income and before the new income protection measures can take effect”, they urge.
“As child benefit reaches most families (12.7 million children receive it ) it offers an effective, fast and resilient way to get money to families through our existing infrastructure - families will get the help they need directly into their bank accounts to cover additional costs.”
Because since 2011 child benefit has been subject to freezes and sub-inflationary uprating, more than half the suggested £10 increase would simply restore its value to 2010. A £10 child benefit uplift, on top of yesterday’s planned annual uprating*, would reduce child poverty by around five percentage points and household poverty by one to two percentage points. That’s a bigger reduction than is achieved by the £20 increase in universal credit and working tax credit that the Chancellor has announced, welcome though these are. The benefit cap – which limits the total amount of benefit a household can receive - would need to be lifted to enable all families to gain from the £10 child benefit uplift.
“… swift action to strengthen the finances of families and to shield children from additional hardship is critical in such exceptionally difficult times” the signatories urge.
Notes to Editors:
*Yesterday’s uprating of child benefit added 35p to its value for an eldest or only child (taking it to £21.05 per week) and 23p (taking it to £13.93 per week) for additional children.
The letter and full list of signatories is https://cpag.org.uk/file/4860/download?token=qg6QcfIW
Media contact: Jane Ahrends at Child Poverty Action Group on 07816 909302