Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:
'The introduction of Universal Credit is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to simplify the benefit system and make work pay. The fact that families with children are not being targeted during its testing phase is of great concern.
'Once fully implemented, the new benefit system will affect nearly 7 million children - half of all children in the UK. By not including families with children now, any problems will not be picked up before it is rolled out across the country from October. The government must use these pilots to identify and address any harmful effects on families with children.
'These reforms to the benefit system must not become a lost opportunity. We are concerned that, though some families will clearly benefit, many of those most in need will lose out.
'Reductions in personal allowances for single parents under-25, cuts to help for many disabled children and reductions to childcare support for some of the poorest working families all risk undermining the new system’s effectiveness.
'The government needs to make sure the new system is fair and that none of its measures plunge more children into poverty.'
For more information, please call Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422/07775 812 357, firstname.lastname@example.org. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
Notes to editors
- The first trial of Universal Credit starts on 29 April 2013, in parts of Cheshire and greater Manchester. Parts of Wigan, Warrington and Oldham will join the pilot from July.
- See our latest briefing, Universal Credit – The Children’s Society’s key concerns
- Tens of thousands of disabled adults and children will be much worse off as a result of Universal Credit
- Approximately 100,000 of the country’s poorest working families will be hit hardest when new childcare measures come into effect under the new benefit system.
- Chris Grayling, Minister of State (Employment), Work and Pensions, stated 6.7 million children would be in households entitled to Universal Credit
- 3.6 million children in the UK are living in poverty
- Six in 10 children living in poverty are in low-income working families. .
- See more on Universal Credit and our concerns.
- The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.