22 Nov 2017

Commenting on today’s Budget, The Children’s Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed, said:

“The 6 week waiting period for Universal Credit has been plunging families into hunger, destitution and problem debt. Cutting this by a week and extending advance payments – which immediately get families into debt – simply does not go far enough and it will leave too many parents desperately trying to find a way to feed their children and pay for other essentials. We believe that the longest anyone should have to wait to receive their entitlement to universal credit is two weeks and that, from then on, claimants should get payments weekly if that’s what they want.

“In his speech, the Chancellor said that the Government was introducing Universal Credit to ensure that ‘work always pays’, but the Government’s proposal to remove entitlement to Free School Meals from those earning over £7400 per year tears this promise to shreds. Not only is this a missed opportunity to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of children living in poverty in working families get a free school meal, but it will also create a huge disincentive for families earning just under to this threshold to take on extra hours, destroying the main reason for introducing Universal Credit in the first place.

“Local children’s services are reaching breaking point, leaving more and more children with nowhere to turn when they need help. The amount of central government funding provided each year for council children’s services has been cut by £2.4bn since 2010, with more cuts to come. With nothing in today’s budget to address this, we are deeply concerned about the consequences for some of society’s most vulnerable children in the face of such a huge funding gap.

“The £2.8bn pledged for the NHS today still falls far short of what’s needed to demonstrate that the government is truly committed to giving mental health an equal footing with physical illness. 30,000 children and young people are turned away every year from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and today’s NHS funding announcement didn’t set out the long-term, ring-fenced funding those services desperately need.

“Today the Chancellor proudly claimed that he ‘cares for the vulnerable’, sadly there was very little evidence beyond these words to convince young people and low income families that his vision for the future of Britain is one they can share in.”

 

For more information, please call The Children’s Society’s media team on 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors

  

  • The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.