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A bad budget for children, say children’s charities

Concerns that budget does not address child poverty

Wednesday's budget which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had described as a 'budget for the next generation' has drawn criticism from charities supporting children.

Child Poverty Action Group Chief Executive Alison Garnham said:

"This budget puts the next generation last and set to be the poorest generation for decades. The Chancellor ignored both the 3.7m children in poverty now and the fact that according to IFS projections we face the biggest increase in child poverty in a generation.

"The Chancellor delivered some big investments for the better off but there was little here for hard-up parents trying to get better off by earning more. Children were prioritised behind business groups who got costly tax cuts.

"Increasing the personal tax allowance is an expensive way to badly target help for the low paid. It is simply not a social justice measure when 85 per cent of the £2 billion the Treasury spends goes to the top half and a third goes to the top 10 per cent. For every £1,000 the personal tax allowance goes up, basic rate taxpayers gain £200, but Universal Credit rules will claw back 65 per cent of that gain from the low paid, leaving them only gaining a maximum of £70 a year.

"Improving children's life chances starts with ensuring families have enough money. That means restoring cuts to Universal Credit – which from April will hit the very same working families as would have been hit by the now abandoned tax credit cuts – and re-investing in children's benefits.

"The triple lock on pensioner's income has achieved huge falls in pensioner poverty. Extending the same protection to children must now be the priority."

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children's Society, said:

"It is deeply disappointing that the Chancellor has once again failed to deliver for struggling families. If the Government wants to put the next generation first it must confront child poverty head-on. Instead it is pressing ahead with a four-year benefits freeze that will hit 7.5 million children.

"The Chancellor's claim that child poverty has fallen ignores that half a million more children live in absolute poverty compared with 2010, and the numbers in the most severe poverty are also rising. Without immediate action independent forecasts indicate that hundreds of thousands more will join them.

"If the Government wants to act now rather than pay later, it must also invest in early intervention services in order to address problems before they become crises and make sure children can get the start in life they deserve. There also needs to be more investment in desperately needed therapy for young people traumatised by sexual abuse and exploitation.

"Vulnerable children and teenagers will continue to suffer until the Government is willing to commit the resources needed to tackle the challenges they face."

The NSPCC focused its comments on the funding of children's mental health services.

Whilst the charity was pleased that the government had committed to mental health funding, it said that part of this money must now be urgently prioritised to ensure abused children get effective therapy that helps them deal with the emotional and psychological consequences of their horrendous experiences, so they can rebuild their childhoods.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said:

"It is deeply disappointing that the government has not prioritised vital mental health support for child sexual abuse victims in this budget despite the widely acknowledged funding gaps. We have said time and time again, how it is essential that there are services to help these vulnerable young people recover and we are surprised that the Chancellor didn't take this opportunity to emphasise the government's commitment to this issue and ensure that the necessary support is available for victims.

"We know that each year, more than half a million children in the UK experience abuse. Yet many of those who come forward do not receive support in rebuilding their lives. A lack of funding in mental health services for children who have been abused can make it impossible for them to overcome their trauma.

"That's why ring-fenced funding to support victims of abuse is so important. That's why we've launched our campaign, It's Time. Because it's time we all took action to make sure some of the most vulnerable children in the UK are given the right support – for as long as they need it."

18/3/16