Policy will increase child poverty

Concerns have been raised that a government shakeup of welfare payments being introduced this Thursday will push a further quarter of a million children into poverty.

At the same time, government changes will wipe thousands of pounds off payments for bereaved families, according to nationally published research.

Analysis reveals that a family whose third child is born before midnight on Wednesday this week could be up to £50,000 better off over 18 years than one whose child is born on Thursday.

The crunch for families celebrating a new birth or grieving the loss of a parent is a result of changes coming into effect on 6 April. 

They were announced when George Osborne was chancellor and are being enacted by Theresa May’s government. One of the changes means all households that have a third or subsequent baby will – aside from a limited set of exemptions – no longer be able to claim child tax credits.

Osborne announced the two-child policy in 2015 as part of a £12bn programme of social security cuts. 

Also coming this week is a freeze to working age benefit levels, at a time when, according to the Resolution Foundation, the wealthiest will benefit from over £2bn a year in income tax cuts.

‘Policy in Practice’ found that more than 600,000 families would be hit by the child welfare cuts, while many more could be affected by other cuts.

An expected 8,000 third or additional children are expected to miss out on support of up to £2,780 a year in April, a figure that could climb to 104,000 over the next 12 months, said the authors of the study.

It is anticipated that the two-child restriction would inflate current child poverty figures by 10% by the end of the parliament, with a knock-on cost to public services of around £270m a year as a result of increased support spending in other areas such as housing and schools.

Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, said:

“Far too many families are already struggling to make ends meet.

This latest government policy is likely to have financial consequences well into the future affecting those most in need in our country. It is a huge concern.

The Child Poverty Action Group charity estimates it will put an extra 200,000 children into poverty by 2020 and have said it would damage children’s life chances.

Enough is enough. The government must act so that all families can get on with life.”

Earlier this year Portsmouth Labour called for action to tackle child poverty. In Charles Dickens ward alone over 44% of all children aged 0-19 live in poverty. Poverty is the single greatest threat to the wellbeing of children and families.