Austerity Measures-Child Benefit to be Frozen by a Labour Government
Under austerity measures introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Government, child benefit has been frozen from 2010 to this year. Tory Chancellor George Osborne has already said it should increase by 1 per cent in 2015-16. But Mr Balls said the restraint should continue for another year. With inflation running at around 2 per cent, it means the value of child benefit is falling further in real terms.
Mr Balls said, “I want to see child benefit rising again in line with inflation in the next parliament. “But we will not spend money we cannot afford. So for the first two years of the next parliament we will cap the rise in child benefit at 1 per cent”. “It will save £400 million in the next parliament. And all the savings will go towards reducing the deficit.”
The Children’s Society, Chief Executive Matthew Reed said, “Labour’s announcement on plans to cap child benefit rises comes after repeated squeezes on this bedrock of the family budget. “It represents a major real-terms cut to 13 million children. “Policy is about making choices and the shadow chancellor has made a choice, to look for savings by cutting help for children.
“Child benefit has already been frozen from 2010, and then increased by just 1% this year, falling well below rising prices. “Now this proposal will compound that loss, seeing average families facing a £400 cut in child benefit per year by 2017. “We urge the shadow chancellor to reconsider so that children and their already struggling families do not suffer even more unnecessary hardship.”
Families charity Gingerbread, (President J K Rowling) commented, “Child benefit helps to pay for essentials like food and clothes. For many parents, single parents especially, it can be a lifeline.” “Freezing child benefit will raise relatively little in terms of government savings, but means cutting vital support at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet and the number of children living in poverty is projected to rise rapidly over the next few years.” “This proposal would only make it harder for families to pay the bills.”
An independent Scotland would not have taken around £400 each year from families with children. A matter not given a deal of attention to by the President of Gingerbread. A bit late now.