Children's commissioners voice concerns over welfare reforms

Neil Puffett
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Further weight has been added to the campaign against government welfare proposals after the UK's four children's commissioners joined forces to criticise the plans.

The proposals, which include a cap on the total amount of benefits paid annually to families, are currently going through parliament and have been subject to fierce debate.

A statement issued by the group said they are "deeply concerned" at the "serious negative impact" of the proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill, predicting the changes could affect hundreds of thousands of children.

"We urge the UK government to reconsider its plans, specifically the £26,000 benefit cap to be imposed on families each year," the statement, signed by Maggie Atkinson (England), Patricia Lewsley-Mooney (Northern Ireland), Tam Baillie (Scotland) and Keith Towler (Wales), said.

"The plan to reduce housing benefit payments and include child benefit within the cap limit will have a disproportionate impact on children.

"Families that receive welfare benefits are particularly vulnerable because they live in poverty – small changes in their household income can have a big effect on their welfare.

"We are concerned that many more families and their children will be pushed into absolute poverty over the coming years if these proposed changes go ahead."

The statement added that the commissioners are concerned the changes could have a knock-on impact on other services, at a local authority level and within the third sector.

"This comes at a time when many of these services are facing reduced budgets with the prospect of capacity needing to be increased as a consequence of more families finding themselves in hardship," they said.

The bill has been going through its third reading in the House of Lords today (31 January).

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