Family benefit austerity is a complex and controversial issue. Every year in April when the budget is released, working-class families anxiously await to hear whether the benefits they are entitled to will be cut.
One of the most infamous austerity measures in recent years was the reduction of benefits to only account for two children. The move to a two-child limit, the government says, is to improve fairness and to get parents to face up to the costs of having additional children. However, this only takes into consideration families who are on low incomes at the time of having children, as a couple could be quite financially stable, have more than two children, and then suffer from illness or an accident which meant they could no longer work. Should the benefits system not be in place to help people when they need it? This kind of social engineering has been widely criticised and the cuts, as well as the move to universal credit, are very unpopular in the media.
- 3 child families will get on average £2,500 a year less than they would have previously got before the two-child limit.
- 900,000 families are on tax credits with 3 or more children currently, and although these will keep their entitlement it shows how many families this could affect in the future.
- The family element of new tax credit claims will also cost families up to £545.
- The bracket for free school meals has been frozen at parents who earn up to £7,400 a year until 2022, where up to 100,000 extra children might have been entitled to this if it was linked to inflation.