Budget 2012 - CASE STUDY: The Teacher
A Birmingham teacher accused the Government of “giving with one hand and taking with the other’’.
Sarah Barton from Bournville is the sole breadwinner after her partner was made redundant in 2010 and has been unable to find permanent work.
While the mother-of-three welcomed the news that 750,000 parents would hold on to some or all of their child benefit, she criticised the Government’s resolve to push ahead with regional public sector pay rates.
Chancellor George Osborne rowed back on controversial plans to scrap child benefit for all households where one parent earns enough to pay the 40 per cent higher rate of income tax, following complaints – including from Conservative backbenchers – that it would hit families in the “squeezed middle”.
Instead, the benefit – worth about £1,000 a year to parents with one child, £1,700 with two and £2,500 with three – will be withdrawn in April 2013 from those earning £50,000 or more.
Ms Barton said: “As the only earner in my household at the moment, I, like many other families rely on child benefit. Because of the economy, more and more families find themselves in the situation where there is only one income coming in.
“I’ve been on a pay freeze for quite some time, and with the price of things going up, it is as good as a pay cut. We don’t have tax credits and manage a family on one income, plus I am worried about my pension as a teacher, so to lose something like child benefit would be the final straw.”
She added she was worried the Government confirmed it could introduce regional pay structures for civil servants when the current freeze ends. Mr Osborne told MPs he wanted to make public sector pay more “responsive” to local pay rates, saying the idea was first introduced into the court service by the previous Labour government.
Ms Barton said: “All this would do is make poor parts of the country even poorer and create a bigger gap between rich and poor.
“How can people hope to have a bright future and achieve if they are paid less. I hope it won’t come to pass because it will be a race to the bottom.”