The latest annual poverty statistics show almost half a million youngsters had been pulled off the breadline by the temporary £20-a-week increase to the benefit
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The Government’s decision to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week will push 400,000 children back into poverty, campaigners have warned.
The latest annual poverty statistics show almost half a million youngsters had been pulled off the breadline by the temporary increase.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also failed to bring benefits in line with inflation from April meaning families in poverty will suffer even more as costs soar.
Official figures show that with 400,000 children pulled out of poverty last year when the UC uplift was in place, 3.9m children – or 27% of the UK total – were living in deprivation.
The 3.9m figure for 2020/21 was still 300,000 higher than when the Tories came to power in 2010.
One in five British children living in poor households were officially classed as “food insecure” as families struggled to make ends meet.
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Ministers have announced a 3.1% uprating of benefits, even though inflation is due to hit 8%, a real-terms income cut of £663 per year for UC claimants.
Alison Garnham of the Child Poverty Action Group said: “Today’s figures show that Government has the power to protect children from poverty.
“But in a week when the Chancellor made clear he was comfortable with his choices and the Prime Minister claimed child poverty had been left out of his plan for the country ‘by accident’ it looks like ministers have turned their backs on low-income families.
“Many of the children who were lifted out of poverty by the £20 increase to UC have already been forced back over the brink by the Government’s actions.
“And as millions struggle with spiralling costs, we know the picture will worsen.”
Mr Johnson was told by MPs on the Commons liaison committee on Wednesday that his flagship levelling up white paper did not contain a single mention of child poverty.
The PM responded: “If that is so, it is a purely formal accident, because the whole objective of levelling up is to make sure that kids growing up everywhere have opportunity.”
The Government has faced criticism from economists over its inadequate response to soaring inflation and energy bill hikes in last week’s mini-Budget.
They told the Treasury select committee on Wednesday that the Chancellor’s decision not to bring forward the benefits uprating will leave the poorest, out-of-work households the worst-off.
The Resolution Foundation has calculated that the cost of living crisis will push 1.3 million households into absolute poverty.
Middle-income households can expect to see disposable income fall 4% next year after housing costs. For those in the poorest quarter, income falls 6%, and for out-of-work households it falls by 8%.