The government’s commitment to a further freeze on child benefit will cost £3.9 million families more than £2,000, new figures show.
Research by the TUC, who represent nearly six million working people across 51 affiliated unions, found that households with two children will lose £2017.60 over the next five years.
After freezing child benefit in 2011, the government increased its value by just 1% in 2014/2015 and 2015/16 – despite rising living costs. They have now announced a further two-year freeze for 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Families with two children under the age of 16 have seen the amount of child benefit they receive frozen at £20,70 for their first child. The amount they receive for their second child will remain at £13.70 per week until 2018.
According to the TUC, a two-child family will suffer a real-terms cut in child benefit of £6.35 week and £330.72 over 12 months in 2016/17. This will rise to £470,60 over twelve months by 2020/21, resulting in a cumulative loss of £2017.60 over the next five years.
The findings contradict David Cameron’s promise that the Tory government will not cut child benefit. Freezing child benefit represents a real-terms cut for millions of families, many of whom could be low-income households.
The TUC says freezing child benefit for such a long period risks plunging more children into poverty. This could be exasperated by a cut in tax credits, hinted by David Cameron in a speech last week, which could see working families lose an additional £1,690 a year – according to the Resolution Foundation.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Freezing the value of child benefit for a second time is a huge blow for millions of families who rely on this money to feed and clothe their children.
“By the time of the next election, families with two children will have lost more than £2,000.
“It is vital the Prime Minister keeps his promise not to cut child benefit, and neither should he extend the freeze again, or he will be hammering families who have already made tremendous sacrifices following a financial crisis they were not responsible for.
“It’s astonishing that many Conservatives are already calling for tax cuts for the wealthiest again. They really need to get their priorities in order and give all the help they can to families who have seen their living standards suffer so much. It will also strengthen the fragile economic recovery if families have more cash to spend in their local shops and services.”