Nine benefit cuts and tax hikes for the new tax year

The new tax year sees cuts for the sick, bereaved, poor and unemployed - and tax cuts for the rich

Benefit cuts and tax hikes for new tax year

The beginning of any new tax year tends to bring plenty to feel depressed about. This year is no different, with nine separate cuts and tax hikes - hitting the unemployed, those on low wages, the sick, young families and bereaved children. So just how badly off will they be?

See also: Brace yourself for National Price Rise Day

See also: Benefits cut considered in wake of changes to disability payments

See also: Housing benefit changes 'put young Scots at risk of homelessness'

1. The government has continued its attack on 'malingerers', 'shirkers' and 'people who are ill' by cutting the Employment and Support Allowance for those who are too sick to work by £30 a week.

2. It is also cutting the amount that bereaved parents can claim in support. Previously this was a lump sum, followed by payments until their youngest child started school - reflecting the value of the deceased parent's National Insurance contributions. Now payments will be limited to 18 months.

3. Parents on low wages, who have more than two children, will also miss out, as child tax credits will be halted for any third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April this year. Only two children will be taken into consideration when calculating housing benefit too.

4. Those claiming the Universal Credit in order to stay at home and care for children must start looking for work when their youngest child is three - or lose payments.

5. The family element of Tax Credits - worth £545 - will not be available for couples starting a family from 6 April this year.

6. Universal Benefit Claimants aged between 18 and 21 will need to apply for training, apprenticeships or a work placement, or they will lose their Jobseekers' Allowance. They also lose their automatic eligibility for housing benefit.

7. State benefits including the Jobseekers' Allowance, the Employment Support Allowance, child benefit and some housing benefits will be frozen for the second year running - which is effectively a cut in benefits after inflation is taken into account. Unfortunately for people getting these benefits, the freeze is expected to last until 2020.

8. NHS charges will rise, including the cost of prescriptions going up to £8.60, and dental charges rising.

9. Council tax will rise by an average of 4% in England.

Meanwhile, the trend of taking away with one hand and giving with the other means there will be some people who are better off in the new tax year. These include those on the minimum wage, who get a new higher rate (£7.50 for those aged 25 or over).

Taxpayers will also benefit from the personal tax allowance rising to £11,500 and the higher rate tax band shifting to £45,000. And savers will be able to put up to £20,000 in an ISA. The Lifetime ISA will also be launched - helping younger savers get on the property ladder. And inheritance tax will start to be eased for those who want to leave a property to their children

It seems, therefore, that this year is one where higher earners, homeowners and the better off can enjoy slightly lower tax bill - while the poor, bereaved, sick and the unemployed are left facing cuts.

Does this seem fair? Do these changes restore balance? Are they a necessary step to keep a lid on a runaway benefits bill? Or do they harm the most vulnerable in favour of those who need help the least? Let us know in the comments.

Great quotes about tax

Great quotes about tax