Concern over £20 cut in Universal Credit while 168,600 children in Wales are in families who receive payment
There are concerns that a £20 cut in Universal Credit will hit children in Wales particularly hard after the latest UK Government figures showed that 168,600 children in Wales were in families who received the social security payment.
Of the 91,500 Welsh families with children who were were on Universal Credit in August, 45% had a child aged four or younger, a 3.2% increase on May.
Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham said that of these only around half will recoup the loss through Universal Credit reforms announced in the Budget.
“Many Welsh families on universal credit will not be able to plug the gap left by the £20 cut which comes just as all families are facing big cost pressures,” she said.
“Children’s benefits are a minimum protection for kids but their value has been eroded by cuts and freezes – and child poverty is rising. Families need government support – and the best place to start is by increasing investment in children’s benefits.”
Child Poverty Action Group is calling for a restoration of the value of children’s benefits – including child benefit and the child allowances in universal credit and tax credits – to stop more children from being pulled into poverty.
Child benefit alone has lost 25% of its value since 2010 as a result of freezes and below-inflation upratings, they said.
The warning by the Child Poverty Action Group comes after Save the Children warned last month that the cut will lead to a surge in poverty in Wales.
Melanie Simmonds, Head of Save the Children in Wales added: “The UK Government’s decision to go ahead with this cut will devastate families in Wales. Over the next month, nearly 90,000 families – that’s over 160,000 children – will be affected with many children pushed into poverty.
“People we work with tell us they’ve been relying on this £20 lifeline to buy essentials like food and clothing for themselves and their children. Without it, tens of thousands more children are facing a cold and hungry winter. And we know the impacts of childhood poverty can last a lifetime.
“It’s astonishing that UK Government ministers have chosen to inflict the most significant social security cut in memory at the same time that families are grappling with a cost-of-living crisis; Inflation, increases in energy prices, fuel shortages and tax hikes are all taking their toll on family finances.
“For many, this will be a significant catastrophe of falling income and rising costs. The UK Government has a duty to protect families from hardship and not add to it.
“The UK Government must change course. In his budget announcement later this month, the chancellor should reinstate the £20 lifeline. Children will be affected immediately by this change as well as throughout the course of their entire childhoods and beyond.”
Research by the Bevan Foundation has shown that a higher proportion of families in Wales will be affected by the cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit than the UK average.