The government has announced changes to welfare benefits that will affect parents and the disabled.
The changes will affect Child Tax Credit, Disability Benefit and Housing Benefit. The new measures were originally announced by former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne in 2015, but have taken two years to come into effect.
Child Tax Credit, worth up to £2,780 per child a year, will now only be paid for the first two children in any family. The changes will also mean that women who have a third child through rape will have to prove their ordeal to get an exemption.
For parents who claim Child Tax Credit, a further change means they will lose an extra payment of £545 a year.
Changes to Disability Benefit mean that people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will get £29.05 less per week if they are deemed fit to work. Also under the new rules, jobseekers aged 18 to 21 will no longer be able to claim Housing Benefit.
The measures have also come into force despite the Conservative’s announcing that there were “no plans” to make more cuts to welfare.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the then Work and Pensions Secretary said, “I am absolutely clear that a compassionate welfare system should not just be about the numbers.”
“Behind every statistic there is a human being.”
“And perhaps sometimes in Government we forget it.”
The welfare cuts have proved unpopular, with an estimated 515,000 families due to be affected by 2020. The cuts are also expected to affect society’s poorest families.
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party said, “The Women’s Equality Party is appalled by the stealth imposition of these new rules, using a form of legislation that does not require parliamentary approval.”
“These draconian cuts will damage thousands of children’s life chances – according to the Child Poverty Action Group, they will push 200,000 children into hardship.”
“For a child to be poor just because they live in a bigger family is an injustice.”
“Today’s changes to the Child Tax Credit prove that the austerity agenda is alive and well.”
“Families have had their housing allowance cut, benefits capped and bedrooms taxed.”
“This is the final straw for women, single parents and disabled people who are already struggling to make ends meet in the face of sustained attacks on their income.”