autumngeorgeThe National Children's Bureau (NCB) has raised concerns that the least well off children and families will bear the brunt of measures announced in the chancellor's Autumn Statement.

The 'real value' [taking into account inflation] of most working age benefits, including Child Benefit will continue to go down for the next three years following George Osbourne's Autumn Statement.

Today's Statement is one of the two main occassions that the Chancellor can make changes to public spending and this year's saw Mr. Osbourne (pictured) continue his 'austerity agenda' in light of poorer than expected economic growth figures for 2012 of -0.1%.

Hilary Emery, Chief Executive at NCB said: "Yet again those children living in the poorest families are being disproportionately hit by further cuts to benefits and services. This Christmas, far too many children will be growing up in a cold home, watching their parents struggling to make ends meet, which will damage their health and well being.

"There is an urgent need for government to rebalance the impact of its austerity programme, so that the next generation does not continue to carry the burden. If government is prepared to protect pensioners, it should also be prepared to protect those children who are in greatest need."

Mr Osbourne did announce that there would be more money for roads and schools as well as axing a planned 3p fuel duty rise but charity 4Children also believe the autumn statement provides "little cheer for Britain's struggling families".

CEO Anne Longfield said: "The measures announced in today's Autumn Statement will provide little cheer for those families who are already struggling to cope with the rising cost of living. 

"Small changes such as reducing the uprating of benefits can make all the difference to vulnerable families, tipping many into poverty or breakdown - a consequence that will see our welfare system ultimately pay a higher price in the long run. It has never been more pressing to start putting families at the heart of the economic recovery. Investing in families now is the only way to get our economy back on track and offer thousands of families a lifeline before their financial difficulties become irreversible crises."

Despite the Chancellor's assertion that "the British economy is healing," his Labour counterpart Ed Balls has suggested the poor growth figures show "the true scale of this government's economic failure".

The Shadow Chancellor estimated that families with children on £20,000 a year would be an average of £279 worse off from April, even with the personal allowance changes.

Posted 05/12/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com