Invest in social security to lift children out of poverty, says charity

5 Jun 19

An £8.3bn package of investment in social security could lift 700,000 children out of poverty, according to charity analysis.

Removing the two-child limit on universal credit, abolishing the benefit cap and adding £5 a week to child benefit are among a raft of “modest” changes that would lift 700,000 children out of poverty by 2023 and increase family income by £1,000 annually, the Child Poverty Action Group has claimed.

CPAG also recommended the government restore the child element in universal credit to its 2015-16 value - £246 instead of £232 annually - and reinstate the higher payment for the first child in the family, which was abolished in April 2017.

The report, out today, said: “This package would come at a cost of £8.3bn, a fraction of the total of social security cuts of almost £40bn per year by 2020.”

CPAG urged the government to rectify “design flaws and system errors” with the universal credit system, which it says will support seven million families when it is fully rolled out.

Alison Graham, chief executive of CPAG, said: “We all want to see the best possible start in life for the UK’s children, but instead the face of child poverty is getting younger as 53% of children (two million children) growing up in poverty are now under the age of 5.

“Children have borne the greatest burden of cuts to government spending with the four-year benefit freeze and punitive policies such as the 2-child limit and benefit cuts – this is just not right.”

Graham noted that work has not provided families with a route out of poverty as 70% of children growing up in poverty are from a working family.

She added that further roll out of universal credit without addressing its flaws “risks scaling up the errors, hardship and unintended consequences that are blighting the lives of so many families struggling to get by”.

The two-child limit on universal credit means that families will only receive tax credits on the first two children in the family and applies to children born after April 2017.

The benefits freeze has been in place since 2015-16 and is due to stop at the end of the 2019-20 financial year.

The Department for Work and Pensions has been contacted for comment.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies from Tuesday found that Sure Start centres have significant benefits for children in deprived areas, but numbers are falling.

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