Reflections on the Budget 2015 Child Hardship Package
The 2015 Budget contained benefit rate increases for beneficiaries with children and some minor adjustments to work-based child-related tax credits. The significance of these increases when other policies are taken into account suggests a reshuffling of money in which much of the distributional effect will be minimal and offset. For children it resembles the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff rather than a structural review of child-related income policies that might be reformist, preventative and inclusive. The cost to society is more complexity in the benefit system and a cementing in of reliance on work-related child tax credits that have unproven worth either in incentivising work or in reducing child poverty. A rational policy-making approach with the clear aim of child poverty reduction, measurable outcomes, agreed criteria and a process for evaluation might have suggested that a different policy direction was more appropriate and more likely to be effective.
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