Child benefit cuts take effect

The coalition Government came under a sustained attack today for a raft of welfare reforms that critics claim are punishing the poor and hitting women hardest.

Government is 'punishing the most vulnerable in society'

Today’s reform will not hit low income women because they are living on wages far below that and severely struggling to get by. We are most concerned about MPs’ vote tomorrow on a three-year 1% rise in benefits, which will further push working families and women on low incomes towards crisis point, due to cuts in real terms.

The government is punishing the most vulnerable in society, overwhelmingly women and children, not the workshy nor feckless. Whilst we appreciate the economic challenges facing the country we must question policies which seek to remedy the mistakes of the most powerful off the backs of the least powerful. Women’s organisations will be hard pushed to pick up the pieces of the drip drip effect of a whole raft of Coalition policies on women and children and we fear for the wellbeing of whole communities in our country.

– Vivienne Hayes, Chief Executive of the Women’s Resource Centre

Johnson's 'relief at end of Mussolini-like reward for procreation'

London Mayor Boris Johnson has said in the Telegraph that it is a 'relief' that child benefit will no longer be available to 'middle-class' families such as his own.

Mr Johnson wrote in the paper that it was an, "absurd system whereby low-income people paid in their taxes for richer families to receive this Mussolini-like reward for procreation."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson with Prime Minister David Cameron during the lighting of the Paralympic Cauldron
Mayor of London Boris Johnson with Prime Minister David Cameron during the lighting of the Paralympic Cauldron Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

He calculates that his family has received, "about £47,547.40" in child benefit and says; "I feel both grateful and appalled to have profited in this way, and a sense of intellectual relief that today, the madness comes to an end."

The Mayor adds that the fact there will be "some losers" is part of welfare reform:

"I know that some people worry about the perverse impacts of the £50,000 threshold – and yes, I suppose it is an unfairness that a household with, say, two incomes each of £49,000 could continue to get the benefit in full, while a family with a single breadwinner on £60,000 would lose it altogether.

"But that is the trouble with any reform of a benefits system that now costs £207 billion a year."

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Child benefit changes: Who is affected?

An HMRC guide explains who is affected by child benefit changes. Credit: HMRC

If your income is under £50,000 per year, you will be unaffected by changes to child benefits.

If you earn between £50,000 and £60,000 per year, you will lose some of your child benefit payments from January 7th.

If you earn over £60,000 per year, you will lose all your child benefit payment.

Those earners can choose to either stop the child benefit payment or to be charged the equivalent of the payment in extra tax.

Source: HMRC child benefit payment changes explainer

Video: Cameron: Child benefit changes are 'fair'

Labour: 4.6 million women hit by welfare cap

Yvette Cooper warned of the impact of welfare increase caps on women. Credit: PA

Labour claimed cuts to child benefit that came into effect at midnight, combined with a three-year benefits and tax credits squeeze, was a "huge assault" on millions of working families.

Research compiled by the Commons library for the shadow equalities minister Yvette Cooper shows 4.6 million women who receive child tax credit directly will be hit by a cap on welfare increases, according to the Guardian.

Cafcass boss expects children in care cases up 8%

Anthony Douglas, chief executive of Cafcass, the organisation that represents children in care cases, told the Independent he feared the number of cases could rise by up to 8%.

He added: "Given what we know about the association between poverty deprivation and care, the increase in economic difficulties can take away the margins of support for people who are just managing to keep things together.

"Often quite small amounts of support can make all the difference. So I think that there is a risk of underestimating the way in which this support can keep some families going."

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Parents earning over £50,000 lose out on child benefits

David Cameron said changes to child benefits are 'fundamentally fair.' Credit: PA

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday defended cuts to child benefit payments, which sees families with one earner on more than £50,000 lose some or all of the payment while households with two parents with salaries just under the trigger keep theirs, insisting the move was "fundamentally fair".

Tory Chairman: 'I feel the pain' of child benefit reforms

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps indicated the child benefit reforms had been unpopular in his own home and said he feels "the pain" of the cut.

He told the World this Weekend:

I speak as one of the 15% of parents who is losing child benefit. I have three children, I have just filled in the form. I totally understand and get how frustrating these things are.

Nobody wants to lose money, nobody wants to lose the income. The reality is if you are losing child benefit you are by de facto in a somewhat better position than other people, which is why this policy commands overall support from the public.

I am one of the people affected. I won't quite go as far as sharing the conversation between me and my wife but I feel the pain.

Cameron: Child benefit changes are 'fair'

David Cameron told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show that the Government's changes to child benefit do not punish traditional families but make the system fairer.

Taking away child benefit from those earning over £60,000, that is only the top 15% of the country.

I'm not saying those people are rich but that this will raise £2 billion a year.

If we don't raise that money from these people, the top 15% in the country then we would have to find it from somewhere else.

– Prime Minister