More than 7,000 Hartlepool children live in families facing cuts to their tax credits, says a national charity.
The Children’s Society says 4,100 families across the town, with 7,300 children, will be hit by the move, due to be introduced next April.
Chancellor George Osborne says cuts to the benefits budget will be off-set by the new ‘national living wage’ of £7.20 an hour for over-25s, but campaigners argue the cuts in working benefits will still see the lowest-paid families worse off.
The House of Lords voted to delay the changes last month but Mr Osborne has refused to rule out pushing ahead with the plans.
Hartlepool Citizens’ Advice Bureau manager Joe Michna is predicting the move will have a serious impact.
“A large percentage of our clients are in receipt of working tax credit or children’s tax credit,” he said.
“We are anticipating, if these cuts come into effect that we will see an increase in the number of people coming to see us.
“From what we have seen of the proposed figures, the average family will be about £1,400 a year worse off – the equivalent of about £25 a week.
“For people on lower incomes, as many of our clients are, losing £25 a week is going to be a serious hit on their weekly budget.”
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “I have voted consistently against the tax credit cuts. I have done this because I strongly believe the Government shouldn’t be penalising those working families in Hartlepool who are trying to do the right thing by going out to work but who have a low wage.
“This welcome research confirms that people in Hartlepool and the North East will be among those hardest hit, making it more difficult for people in the town to make ends meet. It also will make the North-South divide even worse.
“George Osborne is simply wrong on tax credits. He needs to admit that, for the good of thousands of working people and their children in Hartlepool and, even at this late stage, with a week to go until his Spending Review, change his mind and stop the tax credits cut.”
Research by The Children’s Society shows how the proposed changes to tax credits would see 2.4million working families nationwide, with 4.5million children, losing hundreds or even thousands of pounds per year.
The charity is calling on the Government to abandon the cuts or at least phase any reductions in over time.
Chief executive Matthew Reed said: “Children will be the biggest losers if these deeply unfair cuts to working households go ahead.
“Parents would no doubt do what they could to shield their children from the impact. But the reality is that tax credits are vital for poorer families who work long hours to provide the basics for their children.”