The current row about child benefit coming just weeks before the budget on 21 March has again concentrated minds on the impact of austerity and government cuts on family finances.
Family Action this week produced a new report Breaking the Bank: Family Fortunes - an investigation into the issue of austerity and family life. We spoke to families who use our children's centres and an advice centre about the state of their finances and about the messages they would like to send to the Chancellor as he prepares to unveil his Budget red box.
We spoke to Worcester women feeling the squeeze as they contemplated returning to work after having new babies, families in Bradford crippled by high fuel costs, young mums in Southend struggling on low incomes to make ends meet and parents in Islington who were hit by rising prices and cuts to housing support.
You can read the findings in our report here but suffice to say family budgets are under intense pressure as families struggle to make ends meet. Key conclusions show that parents are prioritising fuel bills meaning that they have less to spend on other essentials. Some families have less than £2 per person per day to spend on fuel after paying the bills.
Parents are desperate to save for their children's future fortunes but high bills and welfare cuts today mean that this is impossible for most. Mums highlighted the importance of child benefit as a key component of family budgets whether they were in the squeezed middle or on a low income.
All these parents, no matter where they were from, had a key message for the Chancellor. They want to see him protecting family incomes in the Budget and taking action to reduce childcare costs so that work pays. We also want to see the Chancellor reverse changes to Working Tax Credit which could push over 200,000 working families into in-work poverty.
You can read all the messages our families sent to the Chancellor in Family Fortunes - and you can join in and tell the Chancellor how austerity is affecting you using the hashtag #OiGeorge on Twitter.
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