Grantham Journal Column: ‘Tax credit cuts? It’s clear that austerity measures do not work’
While Labour Party members, supporters and members of affiliated organisations welcome Jeremy Corbyn as our new leader, the Conservative Government has begun a serious attack on lower income families through £4.4bn cuts to tax credits.
Despite the Government’s commitment to introduce the Living Wage by 2020, according to the Rowntree Trust, a staggering 94 per cent of households with children will be worse off by 2020, as low income families are being forced to pay the cost of the banking crisis.
Working single parents will lose up to £80 a week, while families without a working adult will lose up to £221 a week. Only families with two adults working and two children or fewer will be better off with overall increase in help. Disgracefully these cuts target women and children in low income households especially.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) reports that child poverty has been increasing under the Tories.
In 2013-14 there were 3.7m children living in poverty in Britain, which equates to nearly one third of children. According to End Child Poverty, in Nick Boles MP’s area of Grantham and Stamford, the number of children in in-work poverty in 2013 was 3,551. The average number of children in out-of-work poverty in 2013 was 1,447. In Grantham, some areas including Earlesfield, St John’s, St Anne’s and Harrowby, up to 29 per cent of children are living in poverty. Latest Government announcements will result in 4.3million children living in poverty by 2020.
Despite the rhetoric of some Conservative ministers, CPAG states: “Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. Two-thirds (64 per cent) of children growing up in poverty live in a family where at least one member works.” Cuts combined with benefits sanctions are having a drastic impact on some households. A Fawcett Society report highlights that those most affected by Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) sanctions are women with children. Women are trapped between the pressure to meet JSA criteria to find work and the need to be the main carers for their families. Single women with children are particularly vulnerable. Zero hours contracts exacerbate the situation. Even women affected by domestic violence are being sanctioned, or worse, staying in a violent or abusive relationships they cannot afford to leave. The continuing high cost of childcare also affects many families. While help with childcare costs can save families up to £1,000 a year, many are still not claiming the help they are entitled to.
Details of childcare help are available on 0800 6443000. Families may check entitlement to tax credits on 0345 300 3900 or online, https://www.gov.uk/claim-tax-credits/how-to-claim
As an urgent humanitarian response is needed to the Refugee crisis, we also need to remain mindful of our own neighbours facing crisis at home..