'Foodbanks first’ jobseekers cut and welfare cap will rack up economic costs of child poverty

June 26, 2013

Responding to today’s spending Review Statement by the Chancellor, Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“The decision to delay eligibility for Job Seekers Allowance to seven days is a ‘foodbanks first’ policy that will hurt families stuck in the low pay – no pay cycle, moving in and out of insecure, low-paid jobs, and will lengthen foodbank queues. We’re talking about parents doing the right thing but who have very little in the way of savings to tide them over if they lose their job. There should be no doubt this will leave more families and children cold and hungry and push more families towards doorstep lenders and foodbanks.”

Commenting on plans to restrict the annual welfare budget, she added:

“The cap risks rationing decency and increasing child poverty. The main drivers of increased social security spending actually lie outside of the benefits system – an ageing population, low pay and rising housing and childcare costs.

“But the cap ignores this. It says that although the fault lies elsewhere, the people who will pay the price for the failure to tackle these root causes will be families who have done nothing wrong but, for a time, have to rely on benefits. Caps could distort policy by incentivising measures that cut DWP spending even though they drive up child poverty and government spending in other areas – child poverty costs us £29 billion a year.

“A spending plan with a long term vision for Britain would have the wellbeing and development of our children at the heart of it, whereas the Coalition’s strategy has been to put families at the frontline of austerity. When millions of British children are left to grow up in poverty, everyone’s future prosperity suffers.”

On the cut to the early intervention grant:

“Cutting the early intervention grant is very bad news indeed and is the wrong choice – spending in the early years pays dividends in the long run and means more hard choices for under-pressure local authorities struggling to keep open their invaluable children’s centres and other children’s services.”


Notes to Editors

  • The Trussell Trust found in 2011/12 that delays and changes to benefit assessments were responsible for 45% of demand on their emergency food aid parcels at their food banks: http://www.trusselltrust.org/stats
  • CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.
  • CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty coalition, which has members from across civil society including children’s charities, faith groups, unions and other civic sector organisation, united in their campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.

For further information please contact:

Tim Nichols

CPAG Press Officer

Tel. 020 7812 5216 or 07816 909302