A leading children’s charity has heavily criticised Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘see no poverty, hear no poverty’ budget statement.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said George Osborne has failed to face up to the reality that child poverty in Britain is on the rise.
CPAG disputed claims that fewer children in Britain are living in poverty. Forecasts from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) show that child poverty is set to increase by 400,000 by the end of this parliament.
Child Poverty Action Group Chief Executive Alison Garnham said: “The chancellor made claim to a truly national recovery but this is a ‘see no poverty, hear no poverty’ Budget which continues to leave children and the low paid behind.
“The claim that child poverty is down is only true if you ignore the impact of the Chancellor’s big benefit cuts.
“Official child poverty statistics for the years in which benefit levels were cut and the benefit cap and bedroom tax were introduced will be published only after the election.
“The Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasts that the Chancellor’s tax and benefit decisions will lead to child poverty rising by 400,000 over this parliament and by 700,000 overall by 2020. This means the cost of child poverty, currently £29bn a year, is set to rise significantly.
“Ministers have to face up to the reality that we’re on course for the biggest rise in child poverty in a generation and take urgent action.
“Families need politicians to prioritise support for parents through Child Benefit and to restore the cuts in tax credits and Universal Credit for the low paid. They also need policies that tackle high rents and childcare costs.
“The increase in the personal tax allowance is expensive and poorly targeted. The same money channelled through tax credit and universal credit would do much more for the low paid.”
‘Eye-watering’ welfare cuts
Hidden away in George Osborne’s budget statement was the promise to make it more difficult for self-employed people to claim tax credits.
Self-employed people will now need to be able to prove their work is “genuine and effective”.
They will also be required to show their business or service is ‘commercial’ and ‘profitable’.
However, National Insurance Contributions for self-employed people making more than £5,885 in profit a year will be abolished.
The Conservatives have also pledged a further £12 billion in welfare cuts if they win the general election.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said George Osborne’s plan to make further cuts in welfare spending is “another brutal assault on unemployed, sick and disabled people”.
Mark Serwotka said: “This is just another brutal assault on unemployed, sick and disabled people from a government that has done more than any other to undermine our social security system.
“If the prospects for growth and our economy are so rosy, and employment is at record levels, this political attack on those who are out of work or on low incomes is even more unnecessary and distasteful.
“George Osborne promised to clamp down on tax avoidance but has only committed to collecting £5 billion when our public finances are deprived of tens of billions every year.”
Commenting on the budget, deputy leader of the Green Party Amelia Womack said: “This budget, which sees the Government pledge eye-watering cuts in welfare spending and generous handouts to fossil fuel firms, shows where ministers’ priorities really lie.”
She went on to criticise the government’s poor record on tackling poverty.
“Government ministers’ celebrations today fly in the face of the fact that millions in Britain are struggling to get by”, she said.
“Last year over 900,000 people needed emergency handouts to put food on their families’ tables.
“Tough benefits sanctions threaten the unemployed with destitution, and one in five workers still earns less than a Living Wage”.
Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said: George Osborne gives with one hand, but takes away much more with the other hand.
“The IFS says his tax and benefit changes since 2010, including the big VAT rise, have cost families on average £1127 a year.”