Children living in poverty

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THOUSANDS of the North East’s poorest will be hardest hit by new childcare measures, a charity’s report claims.

The investigation, published by the Children’s Society, looks into Government plans to roll out Universal Credit.

The new single payment will replace six of the main means-tested benefits and tax credits.

Charity bosses claim 26,000 of the least well-off working families will be hit hardest when the new benefit system comes into effect next year.

The findings are released this week as MPs scrutinise Government’s plans for implementing Universal Credit.

It is estimated on average these families will lose £23 a week from help with childcare costs – up to £4,000 a year, said the society.

Matthew Reed, the charity’s chief executive, said: “This will leave them having to pay up to seven-and-a-half times more than they do under the current system.

“Poverty is the harsh reality for hundreds of thousands of families across the UK and childcare is key to making it possible for parents to stay in work.

“The Government is right to focus on work as a route out of poverty. But by cutting vital support, it is jeopardising our children’s chances of a better life.”

He is calling for Universal Credit to cover 80 per cent of low-income families’ childcare costs, rather than 70 per cent.