The Budget and Child Poverty
The Budget’s new programme for unemployed young people is very welcome, and bears a certain resemblance to the TUC’s proposals for an intermediate labour market programme, but I can’t help being disappointed by the non-action on child poverty.
Like other organisations in the End Child Poverty coalition, the TUC called for a £3 billion investment in support for the 3.9 million children still living in poverty.
The scale of the Budget response was inadequate; as far as I can make out there are three items that are designed to raise children’s incomes:
- Raising the child element of the Child Tax Credit by £20 (a year, not per week). [Paragraph 5.13 of the Budget Report.]
- Paying an extra £100 a year to the Child Trust Fund accounts of disabled children, and £200 for severely disabled children. [Para. 5.50]
- Making it clear that the Working Tax Credit run-on includes the childcare element. [Para. 5.14]
These are worthwhile initiatives, but nowhere do they meet the scale of what was needed. If you turn to Table A1 in the Budget Report, you’ll find that the first will cost £140 million; the second £15 million and the third £10 million. A grand total of £165 million.
Last October, together with thousands of others, I went to Trafalgar Square to take part in this country’s largest ever demonstration against child poverty in Britain. Politicians from all the parties told us how much they cared, and that we had their support.
This certainly wasn’t what I had in mind when they told us that.
I suppose it is just possible that the Chancellor will pull a rabbit out of his hat in the Pre-Budget Report this Autumn, but it seems unlikely. What seems likely is that the Government will fight the General Election having failed to hit its own target of halving the number of children in poverty.
That is why I have to agree with End Child Poverty – this Budget has failed children in poverty.