14,000 CHILDREN BELOW THE BREADLINE
The government’s failure to increase child benefit and child tax credits in line with the cost of living over the past three years has left one-in-five families in North East Cambridgeshire struggling to provide the basics for their children, according to action group End Child Poverty.
Its report, ‘Short Changed: The true cost of cuts to children’s benefits’, published on Friday, found 14,600 children in a total of 8,900 families in the local constituency were cutting back on food and heating their homes.
But Conservative North West Cambridgeshire MP, Steve Barclay, branded the “left-wing” lobbying report as speculative and misleading.
He also said it was focused purely on child benefits and did not take into account government changes which have made many families better off, such as the income tax boost and freeze on fuel tax.
End Child Poverty said nearly two-thirds of the children affected by the cuts come from working families on low incomes. It claimed about 40 per cent of families earning below £15,000 a year said they had cut back on food, and 45 per cent on heating.
It has called on the government to introduce a “triple-lock” guarantee similar to that applied to the state pension to ensure children’s benefits rise in line with prices, earnings or by 2.5 per cent, whichever is the higher. David Holmes, chairman of End Child Poverty, said: “It is deeply worrying that parents are having to cut back on food, heating and other essentials their children need in order to develop.”