Child Benefit UK: HMRC implored to raise payments by £10 a week to avoid family ‘hardship’

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Child benefit payments can come in two different rates. Claims for an eldest or only child will bring in £21.05 per week.

Claims for additional children will generate £13.95 per child.

There is no limit on how many children can be claimed for so child benefit payments can bring in thousands of pounds a year for families.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) recently conducted research into how families are utilising their child benefit payments.

This research is based on a survey of 1,000 parents who used child benefit in the summer of 2020, with the findings being compared with the results of a similar survey conducted in 2012.

The survey revealed that many parents are increasingly using child benefit to cover utility bills and other bottom-line household costs.

The survey asked parents to identify the items or services they used part or all of their child benefit to pay for, with the following being highlighted:

  • 28 percent of parents receiving child benefit said they now spend it on day-to-day living/general expenses, up from two percent in 2012
  • 14 percent reported spending child benefit on bills, up from four per cent in 2012
  • 33 percent are spending it on food in 2020, up from 26 percent in 2012
  • 15 per cent of parents today spend child benefit on baby products/formula milk/nappies/wipes compared to nine per cent in 2012
  • just less than a quarter (23 percent) spend it on clothes/shoes for children (down from 51 percent in 2012)

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Of the parents surveyed, 37 percent revealed that they couldn’t manage without their child benefit payments.

Additionally, 74 percent of respondents expressed the belief that every family should be treated equally when it comes to child benefit.

These findings could be worrying when taking into account additional analysis from CPAG which found that child benefit has lost 23 percent of its value since 2010.

This loss is the result of various freezes and sub-inflationary uprating.

In light of this, CPAG went on to call for a £10 weekly increase in child benefit to ensure that parents can protect their children from potential hardship.

CPAG pointed out that this is especially needed given the economic impact of coronavirus, with there being no targeted extra support for children in the Government’s economic response, besides a temporary extension of free school meals replacement vouchers.

Alison Garnham, the Chief Executive of CPAG, commented on the survey’s findings: “This week especially many parents will be worrying about whether they’ve got enough money to meet their children’s needs as they face an exceptionally expensive post-lockdown return to school.

“Some will have been asked to supply masks and learning equipment and packed lunches for the school day, and almost all will have to buy new shoes and uniforms for children who’ve outgrown their old kit after months at home.

“In the period ahead, as the coronavirus recession takes hold, we are likely to see many more families falling into hardship and many more parents struggling to stop their children from slipping into poverty.

“Yet there was nothing in the Government’s economic response to the pandemic that offered ongoing targeted financial support for children.

“For almost 50 years, child benefit has been there for children as a minimum protection against poverty but its value has been eroded and as our survey shows, hard-pressed parents are increasingly having to spend it on general household essentials.

“That isn’t right. As a nation we invest in the state pension to support everyone in retirement, we should be investing just as much in child benefit to support all families with the extra costs of children.

“Re-investing in child benefit is the least we can do to shore up children’s life chances in these uncertain times.”

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