In my round up yesterday I discussed the changes to child benefit which came into effect on the 6 January. The Labour Party has now released figures compiled from the shadow equalities office-Yvette Cooper- which show the extent of these cuts. One of the most significant things to note is that the vast majority of those affected by the cuts will be women. In fact two-thirds of those affected overall by the 1% benefit and tax credit freeze are women. On average, 98% of those hit by Monday’s child benefit change are women.
Welfare spending will be voted on today, with the Government insisting that welfare payments must be cut in order to bring the country’s debt under control. But 4.6 mn women who receive child tax credit directly will be hit by this directly this includes 2.5 million working women and more than a million women who care for children while their partners work.
The poorest are penalised the most as low-paid new mothers on £12,000 a year will lose £1,300 during pregnancy and the baby’s first year via cuts to maternity pay, pregnancy support and tax credits. They will be hit by a further £422 cuts to child benefit at the same time.
Speaking to the Guardian yesterday, Yvette Cooper said: “Once again women are bearing the brunt of David Cameron’s damaging policies and paying the price for this government’s economic failure. George Osborne and David Cameron came up with real cuts to tax credits as a political stunt, whilst giving millionaires a tax cut. The shocking truth is that working women are paying the price of these Tory boys’ political games.”
Even influential and right wing think-tanks believe the removal of child benefit is an irresponsible change and labelled the move as ‘incompetent’. The Institute of Economic Affairs called it “probably the single most incompetent change to the benefits system since the second world war”.
In an interview for BBC news this morning, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “At a time when you are cutting taxes for the richest in society and you penalise the most vulnerable and those who go out to work-those people doing the right thing, the ‘strivers’ that Mr Cameron says he stands for, it absolutely doesn’t add up, it’s the wrong thing to do.”
And that’s the point surely, whether you are working or not, it is both the most vulnerable and ordinary working people who will be most affected. I’ve heard Cameron use the term ‘those with the broadest shoulders should carry the greatest burden,’ but it was clearly an utterly meaningless remark in this instance because he never had any intention of the richest bearing the burden of anything, but it will be the most vulnerable who will bear the greatest burden.