Migrant charity fear cuts to tax credits will hit Redbridge’s ethnic minority groups hardest

Rita Chadha, from Ramfel receiving bags of donations for the Ilford Redcorder's campaign.

Rita Chadha, from Ramfel receiving bags of donations for the Ilford Redcorder's campaign. - Credit: Archant

Cuts to tax credits announced in yesterday’s budget will hit the borough’s ethnic minority groups hardest, a migrant charity has warned.

The Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL) has hit out after chancellor George Osborne announced that the £30billion-a-year tax credits system, which includes working tax credit and child tax credit, will be slashed by an estimated £4.5bn.

The amount someone can earn before they start losing benefit money has been reduced and support for children has been limited to two children – unless a third child was the result of twins or a multiple birth.

The changes affect children born after April 2017,

RAMFEL chief executive Rita Chadha said: “Redbridge is the fourth most diverse borough in the UK and it’s well known that black and Asian communities tend to have lower incomes.

“A lot of these people are on minimum wage so they need tax credits – it’s a vital lifeline. It’s the only way they’re not a bigger burden on the state.”

Analysis by the Financial Times shows that tax credits nationally make up two per cent of the weekly household income for white households, 6pc for black households and 10pc for Bangladeshi and Pakistani households.

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Children’s charity Barnardo’s estimates 50.1pc of families in Redbridge use tax credits to top up low incomes.

“I think it’s rather peculiar – families on a low income are going to end up being homeless,” said Rita.

Redbridge Disabled Women’s Welfare Association (RDWWA) chairwoman Abida Iqbal also aired concerns.

She said: “I think the cuts will affect south Asian communities – I think that many of those who will feel the cuts will be women in our communities, who tend to be homemakers – although that has changed a lot over the years.”

Bushra Tahir, chairwoman of women’s charity Awaaz, said: “It concerns us a lot – a lot of people come to us for advice on this sort of thing and a lot of families are suffering – it’s very tragic.”

Redbridge Conservative leader Cllr Paul Canal said in response: “I thought it was an excellent budget. It’s a symbolic change the country has to make.

“The cost of tax credits is just not sustainable. It’s there to support the genuinely vulnerable.”

He added: “As the generations come through, people of black and Asian backgrounds are leaving Redbridge schools with the skills to compete for work.”

The chancellor also announced an increase in the national minimum wage from £6.50 to £7.20 an hour next year, rising to £9 an hour by 2020.

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