THE Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, has said that the C of E is “committed to child benefit as a universal benefit”.
From 2013, it is to be withdrawn from families where one parent is a higher-rate taxpayer. It is also to be frozen for three years from next month. The Government is consulting on proposals not to raise child benefit each year, but to divert the money, after a review by Frank Field MP recommended considering the transfer of benefit increases into building the foundation years.
A C of E response, however, argued that household income still mattered. The General Synod has repeatedly reaffirmed the importance of child benefit.
The Bishop said: “The great advantage of child benefit is that it is non-stigmatising. Services which are only for the poor tend to be poor services. Child benefit has a large take-up, and also goes directly to the person who feeds and clothes the child, and so it can deal with hidden poverty. There are many situations in which there is poverty for children, though there may be money around in the family, as the way in which it is spent means children do not benefit from it.”
He said that the Government could expect “strong opposition” in the House of Lords.
The C of E Mission and Public Affairs Council’s submission says that cuts in benefits and services are of “great concern. They will not help the Government in its stated aim of tackling child poverty.”