New research commissioned by Save the Children following last week’s Budget shows that the welfare cap risks pushing as many as 345,000 more children into poverty in the next four years.
The research, from Landman Economics, shows that the way the cap is being applied – for example ringfencing the pensions pot – combined with pressures such as population growth and demographic shifts such as an aging population, will mean savings of £3bn need to be found. These savings will have to come disproportionately from working age benefits that parents rely on and will particularly affect children.
Save the Children’s Director of UK Poverty, Will Higham said, “Children have already paid the highest price in the recession. It is all well and good to look towards a recovery, but parties that vote in favour of the cap need to spell out urgently what provisions they will make to ensure that the poorest children do not get forgotten about and left behind.
“Parties need to explain how they will work to improve wages and welfare to ensure that work pays. Otherwise, today’s vote will become a straitjacket, binding future governments from taking action to stem a rising tide of child poverty.”
“Parties voting for the cap should remember that poverty doesn’t just hurt childhoods, it can affect the rest of a child’s life. All too often poorer children do less well at school than their better off peers, and poverty becomes a cycle.” Mr Higham said.
Diane Abbott, one of the Labour rebels, said: “This is not a game, this is about people’s lives… [They] are not to be a matter of short-term political positioning.”
Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said: “We support capping social security spending, a policy the Leader of the Opposition [Mr Miliband] advocated last year. With welfare spending now £13bn higher than the Government planned in its spending review, Labour will make different and fairer choices to get the social security bill under control and tackle the root causes of rising spending.”
Asked whether Labour would cap the same benefits and use the same numbers as in the Budget, Mr Balls replied: “Yes.”
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