Child Benefit changes 'a blow to local parents'

NORTH Antrim based politicians have reacted with anger and concern to Government plans to cut child benefits in 2013.

SINN Fin MLA and Poverty Spokesperson Daith McKay says the shock move will have a greater impact on single parents and families with a stay at home parent than others.

He said that the Tory party’s approach to cutting benefits will result in higher levels of poverty.

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Mr McKay said: “This proposal from the British Government will leave you with a perverse situation where on the one hand a couple with one child who earn over 80,000 will qualify for Child Benefit yet a single mother or father with a large family and an income of just 44,000 will lose thousands of pounds in Child Benefit which they are now entitled to. This is a very crude proposal that has more to do with meeting targetted public spending savings than the best interests of children.

“This is in addition to the freezing of Child Benefit rates for the next three years and the fact that the British Government has not put forward any concrete proposals which will tackle child poverty,” he said.

“Further to that they are refusing to guarantee that the Winter Fuel Allowance will remain untouched. That is a major concern for us as the north has a high rate of older people in poverty, a rate which is continually rising.

“These proposals from the British Government will introduce stark inequalities into Child benefit distribution and will have a huge impact on single parent families and families with stay at home parents.

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“Such an approach to welfare will inevitably lead to a rise in poverty and is something that this Assembly must oppose robustedly,” said Mr McKay.

MP Ian Paisley also blasted the Government announcement, stating: “This is a real blow to family unit and a decision the Government will come to regret.

"The decision to remove it is one thing but the inequitable system the government intends to put in its place is just ridiculous,” he said.

“For instance a family where the father or mother earns over 44k will lose the benefit in 2013 but a couple with children who earn between them 80k can keep the benefit.

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“This will force families to consider two parents to seek work when in the past one parent has stayed at home whilst the other is the bread winner. The Government hasn't thought this policy through.

“The new arrangements will also provoke a culture of those children who have benefit and those who don't get. It will stigmatise some families unfairly and will actually drive a further wedge into the class system.

“Only the "bluest" of Tory blood could have thought this one up! I have already been inundated by calls from outraged parents and would urge the Government to think again", said the MP.