Education & Family

Budget: Chancellor urged to avoid 'break-up' measures

People on swings
Image caption Families are deeply anxious about the government's austerity measures says a charity

A family charity has appealed to the chancellor to avoid delivering what it calls a "break-up Budget" on Wednesday.

The Family and Parenting Institute (FPI) urges George Osborne to protect families in his 2012 Budget.

The charity says money worries can lead to divorce and that families with children have been hardest hit by recent tax and benefit changes.

A Treasury spokeswoman said: "If the deficit is not tackled now, the impact on families will be worse."

She added: "There is nothing fair about running huge budget deficits and burdening future generations with debts we cannot afford to pay.

"This has meant tough decisions, but the government has made them in the fairest way, taking real action to benefit families in all aspects of their lives."

But a report for the FPI by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has suggested that families with children have borne a disproportionate share of the pain from measures aimed at cutting the deficit.

The report, published earlier this year, calculated that the average income of households with children would drop by 4.2% between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the equivalent of £1,250 a year.

'Deeply anxious'

By contrast, average household income would fall by 0.9% or less than £214 a year.

Dr Katherine Rake, FPI chief executive, said: "Families are deeply anxious over the government's austerity programme.

"They are being hit by a raft of painful measures including changes to tax credits, the scrapping of the Child Trust Fund, the end of universal Child Benefit and the proposed Housing Benefit cap.

"The chancellor has taken so much away from family pockets. The Budget 2012 must be the one which strengthens family life."

Dr Rake said statistics released at the end of last year showed that divorces increased in England and Wales for the first time in eight years.

Figures released in December by the Office for National Statistics showed the divorce rate rose by almost 5% in 2010.

The Treasury spokeswoman said steps to boost family budgets included doubling free childcare places for two-year-olds and increasing Child Tax Credit.

She said cuts in fuel duty, the freezing of council tax and increases in the level of personal tax allowance would help families, while the new Universal Credit would make three million households better off and help 80,000 with childcare costs.

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