More than 4,000 children from the Ribble Valley’s most vulnerable families are set to be pushed further into poverty as the Government prepares to put a four-year freeze on benefits in some of the toughest austerity measures in living memory, it has been claimed.
A children’s charity is warning that 2,300 low-income families across the borough will be worse off under the reforms, including 1,900 working households, as ministers look to freeze working tax credits, child tax credits and job seekers’ allowance for thousands as part of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.
The Children’s Society said that from April the freeze will hit almost 500,000 low-income families across the North-West and risks pushing many more children into poverty as living costs rise.
Most of those affected in the Ribble Valley – 3,500 children living in 1,900 families – live in working households who receive benefits to top-up low pay.
The Children’s Society said freezing benefits, rather than raising them in line with living costs, could see affected families losing up to 12% from the real value of their benefits and tax credits by 2020.
Ahead of this month’s Budget, charity bosses are urging the Government to reconsider its plan to freeze benefits and suspend further cuts in support for low-income families.
Planned changes, aside from the benefits freeze, include limiting child tax credits to a family’s first two children and scrapping the family element of child tax credit. Universal credit claimants may also receive less support than they might have under other benefits.
Rob Jackson, from the Children’s Society, said: “Families on low incomes across the North West are facing a barrage of cuts. If ministers are genuinely concerned about child poverty they must reconsider plans to freeze benefits over the next four years.”