Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Cuts 'to hit families with babies'

Families with new babies may suffer most from the Government's cuts

Families with new babies will be among those hardest hit by the coalition's cuts package, campaign groups have claimed.

The Family and Parenting Institute unveiled research which identifies families with children as susceptible to the impact of recent changes in welfare, tax and benefit reform.

The research cites three family types which could be hit with the changes - expectant parents and families with small babies, families with parents in part-time employment who cannot find extra work and large families on low incomes.

Dr Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, explained: "Families are being asked to absorb much of the pain of the changes to UK tax and benefits. This is in addition to family finances taking a hit from the VAT rise, the widely predicted increases in mortgage payments, rising inflation, and increases in food, fuel, clothing and energy bills."

According to the institute's figures, families with new babies will be hit by the loss of the Child Trust Fund, the abolition of the Health in Pregnancy Grant, restrictions on the Sure Start Maternity Grant, and the abolition of the baby element of Child Tax Credits, representing a total loss of £775.3 million to the families of 790,000 babies born each year.

They claim these new families with new babies will experience the impact of the three-year freeze in Child Benefit, which will take out a further £1.3bn of support by 2013/14. The institute said that for a family with two children, this freeze was equivalent to £73 per year in 2011-12 rising to £192.32 per year in 2013-14.

For higher earning families, the withdrawal of Child Benefit from families containing a higher rate tax payer will result in an additional loss of £1,752 per year in 2013 for a family with two children. Families with parents in part-time employment who cannot find extra work will also be affected, the institute claimed.

An increase in the number of hours needed to claim Working Tax Credits from 16 to 24 hours will affect 205,000 families with children who currently work fewer than 24 hours per week. If they are unable to increase their hours in response to this change, they stand to lose £3,810 a year.

The institute said that the third family type affected will be large families on low incomes - many of whom are from ethnic minority groups.

Dr Rake added: "Beyond this, the coalition needs to wed these changes to a future vision for families. The Prime Minister has said he wants to make the UK the most family-friendly society in Europe. This is a laudable ambition. Now his Government must explain how this will be delivered in an age of austerity."

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