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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Politicians' fury over benefit changes

Local Labour politicians have reacted with fury to the numbers of people who have been told by HMRC that they could lose their child benefit.
Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones and AM Ken Skates have condemned the changes which have seen 440 households across their constituency receive letters from HMRC saying their benefit could be cut.
Families with one parent with a taxable income of more than £50,000 will lose some of the benefit, and it will be withdrawn entirely if one parent earns above £60,000.
Across the UK, HM Revenue and Customs said it had written to nearly 800,000 people but it estimates 1.1 million will be affected by the move.
Susan Elan Jones said: “The Government have made a complete mess of these child-benefit reforms. A family with two children could lose up to £1,752 a year in child benefit, an important and valuable top-up to the monthly household income.
“In particular these changes are unfair because they penalise single-income families, who will be put under additional financial strain at the same time that heating, household food and other living costs are set to soar even higher.
“There are many people in my constituency who have not had a pay rise for two or three years and the added costs of childcare and transport on top of all this is pinching working families very hard.” 
Ken Skates said: “Means-testing child benefit is simply mean spirited. The gradual withdrawal of benefit from people earning more than £50,000 a year will only increase the enormous financial pressures faced by families in Clwyd South.
“It is ridiculous that single earners on £50,000 will see their child benefit cut whilst couples earning £98,000 could end up keeping theirs.
“What a terrible new year gift for families in my constituency. A letter from the Chancellor saying that he is taking money away from them at exactly the time when they need it most. That’s not fair and it’s not right.”
The UK Government does not have precise information on how many households in Wales should lose child benefit, but it has written to 20,630.
The highest number were in Cardiff North (1,530), followed by Monmouth (1,300), the Vale of Glamorgan (1,110) and Cardiff West (1,090).
The fewest letters were sent to households in Rhondda (130), followed by Blaenau Gwent (140), Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney (190) and the Cynon Valley (210).
According to the Silk Commission launched by the Wales Office to examine devolution, in 2010-11 there were 89,000 higher rate taxpayers in Wales.

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