North Staffs Green Party has written to Chancellor George Osborne calling for him to introduce a 'triple lock' on Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit payments.
This would mean these benefits would rise in line with inflation or by no less than 2.5%, ending a situation created by the chancellor's decision in 2012 that these benefits would rise by just 1% over for the next three years where many families have struggled to pay for essential like food and heating.
The Sentinel recently reported that 44,100 children in Stoke-on-Trent, 9800 in Newcastle and 7200 in the Staffordshire Moorlands are currently living in poverty. Child poverty in Stoke stands at 27.8% of the population, compared to 23.3% for the West Midlands and a national average of 20.6%.
The city also faces serious deprivation related challenges in areas such as health, employment and skills, all of which have an impact on the life chances of children born in the area.
At the 2015 general election the Green Party ran on a manifesto promising to reform the benefits system, ending workfare and unjust benefits sanctions.
In the short term the party included in its manifesto plans to double Child Benefit,paying for this through raising tax and national insurance contributions for high earners. In the longer term the party advocates replacing the current benefits system with a 'guaranteed non means tested payment sufficient to cover basic needs' for everyone legally resident of the UK.
The letter has been written in support of the campaign for a 'triple lock' on Child Benefit led by End Child Poverty.
In a press statement made on 22nd May David Holmes CBE, Chair of End Child Poverty said:
“It is deeply worrying that parents are having to cut back on food, heating and other essentials that their children need in order to develop and thrive. The new Government needs to seize the opportunity in the Queen’s Speech to stop the rise in child poverty. During the election campaign David Cameron promised not to cut Child Benefit, now is the time for him to keep that pledge.”
“We think it is vital that child benefits keep pace with the cost of living and that the Government gives them the same protection as the state pension. This is an opportunity to be bold and to invest in our children’s future.”
In the letter sent to the Chancellor North Staffs Green Party Campaign Coordinator Adam Colclough writes:
'In relation to a city like Stoke-on-Trent, which faces considerable challenges relating to deprivation and where some 44,100 children live in poverty this would be hugely beneficial. Nationally such a change in policy would lift families out of poverty, contribute to improving school attainment and make a significant improvement to the health and well-being of the families concerned.'
He added that 'the evidence is all around us in cities like Stoke that austerity isn't working, in fact it is actively harming people who are trying their best to make a secure life for themselves and their families.'
It was, he said, 'time for the government to think again, to abandon the damaging assault on benefits it has engaged in for the past five years and for the Chancellor to listen to groups like End Child Poverty when writing the next budget.'