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Increase benefits with inflation — or children will suffer, charities tell Chancellor

13 October 2022

Alamy

Children campaign to end food poverty in Lewisham, south London, earlier this month

Children campaign to end food poverty in Lewisham, south London, earlier this month

CHILDREN’s charities across the UK have implored the Government to increase benefits in line with inflation for the sake of the 200,000 children on the brink of poverty.

In an open letter to the Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, on Tuesday, the leaders of 27 charities, including the Children’s Society and Save the Children UK, write: “Now is not the time to leave families with less. From any standpoint, it is evident that growth will take time and its benefits will also take time to reach ordinary families.

“Consequently, in the immediate term, children must be urgently protected. There are no second chances at childhood. It is precious, and our future’s foundation. If we cast aside a generation of children, the impact on them — and wider society — will be felt for generations.”

On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics reported that the UK economy shrank unexpectedly by 0.3 per cent in August. Also on Wednesday, the Bank of England warned investors that its emergency bond-buying intervention — which was designed to stabilise the economy after the mini-Budget caused market turmoil last month — would end on Friday.

Prices have risen by almost ten per cent compared to a year ago.

The letter warns that “hardworking families” face an average monthly loss of £1061 if benefits are increased in line with earnings instead of inflation.

“We hear from our frontline professionals that many simply will not cope — and we know that it is children that will pay the price. Ordinary families frankly need more support not less.”

Reducing child poverty is “morally right” and good for government finances, the letter says. “Child poverty costs the UK £38 billion a year, through reduced revenues for the exchequer and increased need for support services. We know from our work with children that they feel their parents’ stress acutely.”

The letter refers to the Children’s Society’s latest Good Childhood report, which suggested than that 85 per cent of parents were concerned about the effects of the cost-of-living crisis on their family over the next 12 months (News, 23 September). “Please do the right thing and protect children during this crisis. Benefits must rise in line with inflation, or we will leave our next generation with less than we had,” the letter says.

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