JRF: Tax and benefit policy threatens child poverty hike

Child poverty will nearly double within the next 20 years due to the government’s policy on uprating benefits and tax thresholds, a Joseph Rowntree Foundation report has warned.

The JRF said poorer people were disproportionately affected by the current system under which benefits rise in line with inflation rather than average pay increases, and thresholds for tax rates also rise more slowly than average earnings.

With child poverty measured against average income – counting children those households whose income is less than 60% of the median – the JRF said it could rise from 18% to 33% over the next 20 years if the current system remained unchanged.

Ad hoc benefit increases

The report acknowledged that the government had increased benefits by more than inflation or earnings increases on an “ad hoc basis”, as in the recent Budget, but said this was “not a substitute for a fair system”.

Paul Dornan, head of policy for campaign charity the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “It’s time to end years of falling benefit values and high tax burdens for the poorest. Our economy must have protection against child poverty built into it – and it must be built to last.”

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