Thousands of families across Wales will be hit by changes to Child Benefits that are set to take effect in jut twenty months. From January 2013 Child benefit will be withdrawn from families with a higher rate taxpayer.
Peter Hain MP for Neath and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales has described the changes as “unfair” as a loophole will see families of two earners with a combined income of £80,000 receive the benefit but a single earner family on £44,000 lose it.
Official figures from the House of Commons Library say that approximately 37,500 families in Wales will be affected by the changes with an average loss per affected household in Wales of £1,623 per annum, though the actual figure will depend on the number of eligible children in the Household. The clawback would deliver savings of around £61 million in 2013-14, £62 million in 2014-15, and £63 million in 2015-16.
Peter Hain said, “This is another ideological Tory cut attacking families. The callous way they have chosen to introduce the changes will see a lone parent or single earner couples earning just above the higher rate threshold, currently £43,875, lose their child benefit, while dual earner couples both earning just under the threshold would continue to receive it.
“This is a shameful attack on hard working families in Wales, who are being forced to bear the brunt of the government cuts.”
Single parents over the threshold will be particularly badly affected as they would have to pay for childcare out of their reduced income, whilst those who have a parent at home would not have this problem.
There are 9,195 families in Neath in receipt of Child Benefits.
The Tory-Lib Dem cuts are disproportionally affecting women In Neath and surrounding Valleys as they are asked to bear more than seventy percent of the cuts. Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and Neath MP has called the figures “damaging for the progress of the next generation of women.”
Independent research shows men on average will lose £4.20 a week, but women on average will lose £8.80 a week – despite the fact that women still earn less than men. Cuts to child tax credit, childcare tax credit, child benefit all hit mothers hardest. This combined with lower public sector, Carers Allowance payments, cuts to housing benefit and the rise in VAT, this Tory Government propped up by the Lib Dems is just throwing more hurdles in the way of women.
“Women play a vital role in the workplace and at home.” Said Mr Hain “Women have already achieved so much, there is still so much to do but this unfair attack will, I fear, not only halt the progress already made but set it back years. It is likely that their life chances and independence will suffer because of this government’s assault on women and families.”
Thousands of pensioners are going to be worse off thanks to cuts Chancellor George Osborne failed to mention in the budget. Older people will receive up to £100 less from the government towards their winter energy bills which Neath MP Peter Hain has called a “cruel blow to the elderly.”
Winter Fuel payments for over 60s are set to drop by £50 from £250 to £200 while those over 80 are expected to lose £100 from £400 to £300. Between 2009 and 2010 there were 12,830 households in Neath in receipt of Winter Fuel Allowance.
Mr Hain said, “This is devastating news for elderly people who rely on these payments to help with the high cost of heating their homes over the winter. The situation is going to be made worse as the cost of heating is continuing to rise but the Chancellor has made no provision for this in the Budget instead he has left the elderly to fend for themselves.
“Over two thousand five hundred people in Neath are in receipt of the higher rate of Winter Fuel Allowance who will now be left to face the rising cost of warming their homes. This is a disgraceful way to treat elderly people.
“The Lib-Dems broke their promise to students over tuition fees and the Tories broke their promise to hard working families over child benefits and now the Tories have broken their promise to pensioners over the Winter Fuel Allowance.”
On the same day the Prime Minister said he would not be removing the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from 80,000 care home residents, Chancellor George Osborne announced he was cutting nearly fifty per cent more than originally planned.
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and Neath MP Peter Hain has called on Mr Cameron to “get a grip on his welfare reforms” claiming its creating an air of uncertainty for thousands of people. The mobility component is worth either £18.95 a week, the rate for people who can walk but need guidance or supervision to do so, or £49.85, which is paid to people who have difficulty walking.
Mr Hain said, “I am really worried this will cause real hardship to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“This takes the Tory tradition of giving with one hand and taking with the other to a new level. David Cameron is giving with one hand and George Osborne is taking away with the other hand. At the end of the day its disabled people in residential care homes that are left to suffer as they face continued uncertainty over the mobility component of DLA.
“The mobility component of DLA makes a huge difference to the lives of disabled people allowing them to be independent and to lead an active life.”
During Prime Ministers Questions (Wednesday 23 March) Mr Cameron was asked why her was proposing to remove the mobility component of DLA from 80,000 care home residents, his response was “we are not”. But on the same day the Budget Red Book contradicted the Prime Minister confirming the Government are planning to remove the mobility component of DLA from claimants in residential care – with £475 million taken from people in residential care by 2015/16 and cut £150 million more from the mobility component of DLA than originally forecast in the Comprehensive Spending Review last year.
The issue has been further confused as current Welfare Reform Bill going through the House of Commons includes a clause to remove the mobility component of DLA for those living in a residential care home while the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions has said the decision is currently under review.
Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): But is the Minister aware that the dramatic rise in petrol and diesel prices is crippling motorists in Wales, especially those on low or middle incomes? In many Welsh communities people have absolutely no choice but to drive, and with wages frozen or falling, inflation high and today unemployment in Wales surging up, they are getting desperate. Will the Government reverse the VAT rise on fuel? It is what business wants, what motorists are crying out for, and what Wales and the whole of Britain needs.
Mr Jones: Given that I come from a rural constituency, I am acutely aware of the points that the right hon. Gentleman makes. I would remind him that the escalator that is due to kick in next month is Labour’s escalator, and this is a matter that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will be looking at.