The chief executive of the Children's Society says that the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill, due to be debated in the House of Commons on Tuesday 8 January, will make life much harder for millions of people.
Following the announcement of his decision to reduce tax credit and benefit uprating in years ahead, the Chancellor announced on 5 December 2012 that the government would be introducing primary legislation to effect a break with the CPI (Consumer Price Index).
The benefits cap not only means that families will suffer an effective cut, but also that further primary legislation will be needed to reverse such a decision.
The so-called 'uprating' is effectively a downgrading, organisations working with hard-pressed communities point out.
Reiterating a message to the government from 23 top charities, Children's Society chief executive Matthew Reed said tonight: “If this bill is passed, it will make it much harder for millions of children and families across the country to make ends meet.
“Recent cuts have already forced huge numbers of families to tighten their belt. Many more will struggle to pay for food, heat their homes, and provide other basics for their children as they find it increasingly difficult to keep up with rising prices.
“From a nurse with two children losing £424 a year by 2015, to the army second lieutenant with three children losing £552 a year, this will hit children and families from all walks of life.
“The government needs urgently to reconsider this bill. Failure to make sure that benefit rates at the very least reflect rises in the cost of living will deepen inequality and increase poverty,” said the Children's Society CEO.
The charity points out that 3.6 million children in the UK are already living in poverty, six in ten of whom are in low-income working families.
Major changes to the welfare system, including localisation of council tax benefit and the introduction of a benefit cap for out-of-work households are already planned to be introduced next year.
Many of the changes will have a substantial impact on the support available for children and families, say critics.
The Children's Society has a Christian basis, but works with children and families from all faiths and none.
It declares: "Our Christian values of love, justice and forgiveness underpin the way we work with children and young people."
The Children's Society runs over 36 children's centres in England; works in partnership with 40 local authorities; has 34 programmes up and down the country helping children and young people who are struggling to cope with the pressures of everyday life; and supports children from a range of backgrounds and families through free legal advice on a range of issues.
* More on the Children's Society from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/ChildrensSociety
* The Children's Society: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/