Campaigners have described as “shameful” measures to tackle child poverty announced in yesterday’s Budget statement by chancellor Alistair Darling.
Darling said that from April 2010 the child element of the child tax credit would increase by £20 a year.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) had called for a £3bn tax credit investment to lift 700,000 children out of poverty.
CPAG chief executive Kate Green said the Budget increase was a “pittance” which would equate to just 38.4p a week. “The money targeted on the children struggling most during the recession amounts to less each week than the cost of a pint of milk,” she said.
Target to be missed
“The government is now unlikely to meet its target to halve child poverty by 2010.”
Hilary Fisher, director of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, welcomed some of the measures outlined in the Budget but was disappointed that the government had not prioritised the 3.9m children living in poverty.
“Some families in poverty will be helped by the support of Jobcentre Plus and for those under 25 unemployed for more than a year,” she said. “But putting money into the hands of parents is the key way to lift children out of poverty and the shamefully small increase in child tax credit will not be enough.”
Help for disabled children
Darling also announced an increase in the Child Trust Fund for disabled children. Every child born in the UK receives a £250 voucher towards a savings and investment account which cannot be accessed until they turn 18.
Disabled children will receive an extra £100 a year towards their fund and those with severe disabilities will receive an extra £200.
Campaign group Every Disabled Child Matters said the money would provide more support for disabled young people as they started their adult life.
“We urge government to make further commitments to tackle the high levels of poverty experienced by disabled children and their families through measures to support parents’ access to work and take-up of benefits such as disability living allowance,” said board member Srabani Sen, who is also chief executive of charity Contact a Family.
Adults with learning disabilities lose out
Mencap chief executive Mark Goldring said the Budget had failed to address the lack of support available for adults with a learning disability. “With adults with learning disability and their families and carers suffering cuts to their support services, the government must ensure a lasting financial settlement for adult social care is put in place,” he says.
“Without a substantial injection of funding into the social care system, the government is going to let down some of our most vulnerable citizens.”