Westcountry families to lose £1,300 a year in child benefit cuts
Almost 16,500 families in the Westcountry will lose an average of £1,300 a year under the Government's controversial child benefit overhaul, the Western Morning News can reveal.
From yesterday, households with one earner on more than £50,000 started to lose some or all of the payment as part of a £2 billion Government welfare crackdown.
According to Treasury figures placed in the House of Commons library, 16,440 families in the Westcountry have been sent letters from HM Revenue and Customs telling them they will lose out.
Child benefit is being withdrawn on a sliding scale from families where one earner makes more than £50,000 a year.
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Households with one earner on £60,000 or more will lose all their benefit – or £1,752 for two children. However, a family with two earners each on £49,000 a year will keep all the money.
Liam Byrne, Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, told the WMN: "This is another example of parents and working families paying for the Government's failure to get Britain back to work. It is a big con to pretend it's the feckless and the slackers that are being asked to foot the bill."
The Central Devon constituency boasted the largest number of households in Devon affected by the change, with 1,040 families out of pocket. A total of 8,070 households in Devon will be impacted.
In Cornwall, 3,070 families have been hit, and some 880 households in Truro and Falmouth will be affected – the most of all constituencies in the Duchy.
This weekend, Prime Minister David Cameron defended the cuts as "fundamentally fair".
Labour, meanwhile, has launched a new compulsory job scheme for anyone who has been looking for work for more than two years in their bid to appear tough on welfare.
The Opposition claims the scheme would put more than 1,920 people across the Westcountry back into work. Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, said: "The Government needs to take seriously the issue of rising long-term unemployment that has rocketed over the last few years and has caused the Government to borrow more than they planned to pay for benefits."
Today, the Commons will vote on Government plans to cap the annual rises in most working-age benefits at 1% – a real-terms cut – to slash £3.7 billion. Labour is set to oppose the move.
Mr Byrne claimed almost 173,000 people in the Westcountry in work will be hit by the change, arguing it is "strivers" that will be hurt.
He said ministers suggesting the move is an attack on "the slackers" was a "big lie".