Budget is 'failed opportunity to help poor'

PA
The Budget has been met with concern for the plight of Britain's poorest

While aid agencies have congratulated the Chancellor for protecting overseas aid, other organisations say the Budget will not bring relief to those affected by poverty closer to home.

The Association of Christian Financial Advisers said today's Budget was a "mixed bag" bringing some good news for businesses but failing to help those affected by the Government's spending cuts.

The organisation welcomed the reduction of employers' National insurance, capital gains tax relief for employees buying a business, and a reduction in corporation tax to 20 per cent.

It was also positive about the increase of tax-free earnings to £10,000, the abolition of the "confusing" 10 per cent tax rate, and the cancellation of fuel duty rises.

However, it added that there was little to help Britain's poorest. The child voucher scheme "ignores" poor lone families unable to find work and families with a parent staying at home, it said.

There was disappointment that the Chancellor did not take action to slash exorbitant interest charges on payday loans which "exploit the most vulnerable".

The 20 per cent home loan scheme also fails to address the "root problem" of the shortage of affordable social housing.

ACFA spokesman Arwyn Bailey said: "The budget may be good for business, but there is little by way of a helping hand for the poorest in our society."

The social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, CSAN, said changes to the personal tax allowance and childcare support would provide "welcome assistance" to some people.

However, CSAN chief Executive Helen O'Brien said the Budget would do nothing to mitigate the "unprecedented" financial pressure on poor families.

She pointed to the Government's defeat on Tuesday of attempts to protect child-related benefits from significant real-term cuts, which CSAN and others warn will force 200,000 more children into absolute poverty.

The under-occupancy penalties, cuts to council tax support and the abolition of the discretionary social fund coming into force next month will affect hundreds of thousands of families and further escalate the UK's "poverty crisis", she warned.

"Beyond the immediate human cost this will have an extremely harmful impact upon our economy and our society in the long run," she said.

"Spending priorities should be urgently reassessed in order to ensure that a basic safety net is restored for low paid, disabled or unemployed parents and their children."

Cathy Corcoran, chief executive of the Cardinal Hume Centre, said many families were already at "breaking point". She called for a re-think of how the Government could support families and counter the "real and rising human cost" of spending cuts.

Money advice website, MyFamilyClub.co.uk welcomed the fuel duty freeze and tax-allowance rise but said the Government continues to "pay lip service to families in need".

MyFamilyClub chief executive Gemma Johnson said: "After a tough winter, families across Britain looked to this year's Budget for some evidence that the Government is not only listening but responding to the worries of hard-working families across the country," she said.

"We welcome the government's tax-breaks for working parents, but families need help now -
not 2015. These new arrangements also leave stay-at-home mums and dads at a huge disadvantage, especially when many have had their child benefit cut.

"We worry that this Government is just paying lip service to the families most in need."

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