FAMILIES across the UK are being forced to cut spending on essential items such as food, clothing and heating as a result of government cuts to child benefits, a new report has found.
Low-earners are among the hardest hit, the research suggests. Published by the End Child Poverty campaign, the report is titled ‘Short-changed: The true cost of cuts to children’s benefits.’
The campaign consists of a coalition of more than 150 child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups and trade unions.
Following the release of its report, the campaign called on the government to protect child benefit payments in the same way as state pensions.
The typical working family with two children will lose £513 this year due to welfare changes made in the last parliament, the report said.
Across the country, more than four million households have been affected by below-inflation rises to child benefits and child tax credits, it added.
As part of its research, End Child Poverty surveyed 1,000 families to discern how many have had to make household budget cuts as a result of benefits cuts.
A third of those polled said they had cut back on family trips and outings, 26 per cent said they had spent less on clothes, 20 per cent had cut down on food, and a further fifth had cut back on heating.
Among families earning less than £15,000 a year, 40 per cent said they were forced to spend less on food, while 45 per cent said they were spending less on heating.
End Child Poverty has called on the government to ‘triple lock’ a guarantee for child benefit payments.
‘It is deeply worrying that parents are having to cut back on food, heating and other essentials that their children need in order to develop and thrive,’ Chairman of End Child Poverty, David Holmes, said.
‘The new government needs to seize the opportunity in the Queen’s Speech to stop the rise in child poverty. During the election campaign David Cameron promised not to cut Child Benefit, now is the time for him to keep that pledge,’ Holmes added.
‘We think it is vital that child benefits keep pace with the cost of living and that the government gives them the same protection as the state pension. This is an opportunity to be bold and to invest in our children’s future.’