AS MANY AS 100,000 of the poorest families in the country will
lose up to £4000 a year of childcare when the Universal Credit is
introduced, the Children's Society has warned.
The Universal Credit, which will be launched next year, will
replace six tax credits - including child tax credits, working tax
credits, and Jobseeker's Allowance. The Department for Work and
Pensions says that the new credit "will help claimants and their
families to become more independent", and will simplify the
The Children's Society is calling for the Universal Credit to
cover 80 per cent of the childcare costs of families on a low
income rather than 70 per cent, as is planned. The charity says
that, under current proposals, 100,000 families on low incomes
"will lose £23 a week from help with childcare costs . . . leaving
them having to pay up to seven-and-a-half times more than they do
under the current system".
The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed,
said: "Childcare is key to making it possible for parents to stay
in work. The Government is right to focus on work as a route out of
poverty. But, by cutting vital support, it is jeopardising our
children's chances of a better life."
Over the weekend, The World This Weekend on BBC Radio 4
reported that 70 organisations had raised concerns about the
introduction of Universal Credit, in written evidence to the House
of Commons' Work and Pensions Committee. The concerns included the
introduction of monthly rather than fortnightly benefits payments,
and whether a new IT system to administer the Universal Credit
would be ready in time.
Writing in The Guardian on
Tuesday, the Labour MP Frank Field said that there were
"fundamental problems with Universal Credit". He described it as
"the ultimate form of means-testing", which "encourages
Mr Field said: "It [the Universal Credit] obviously gets extra
money to hard-working families who earn low wages, but in doing so
it rots the soul. . . Under Universal Credit, people can still lose
about 65p of every extra, hard-earned pound - 20p more than the
highest rate of tax."
The Centre for Social Justice, which the Work and Pensions
Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, formerly chaired, issued a statement
on Sunday supporting the Credit. Its managing director, Christian
Guy, said that it would "ensure that work pays, and that people in
employment keep more of their money."