Child benefit raise ‘urgently needed’

The government needs to spend £1.7 billion more every year to lift children out of poverty and give them a better start in life, a leading campaign group has claimed.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) today launched its ‘Make Child Benefit Count’ campaign on the 60th anniversary of the child benefit tax credit’s predecessor, the family allowance, which was a key part of the welfare state for over half a century.

Although the organisation admits that there is much good in the present arrangements, CPAG’s chief executive, Kate Green, insists that more progress can be made.

“Child benefit is popular, effective and reaches more children living in poverty than any other benefit or tax credit,” Ms Green explained.

“That’s why we’re calling on the chancellor to increase child benefit and ensure that younger children get the same rate as the oldest child.”

The main policy goal of CPAG’s campaign is to convince the government to raise the level of child benefit provided for younger children, £11.70 per week, to that which is received by the eldest child, substantially higher at £17.45 each week.

If the government were to implement this change CPAG insists Labour’s long-term target of halving child poverty by 2010 and eradicating it completely by 2020 would be made a lot easier.

A recent report by MPs analysing the government’s tax credit system, which is a key part of the government’s efforts to tackle poverty, noted that poor administration of the system used to distribute the credit had led to substantial overpayments.

But it also concluded that since the introduction of tax credits six million families and ten million children have benefited, compared to only 800,000 under the previous family allowance system.