Benefit cuts could hit Orthodox families

Labour MP Diane Abbott has warned that the government's proposals to cut child benefits could hit Charedi families harder than others.

Ms Abbott, who represents the Hackney constituency which includes Stamford Hill, said plans to remove the benefit from families where one parent earns more than £44,000 a year were likely to have a "devastating impact".

Chancellor George Osborne announced at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham that cuts would apply to higher-rate taxpayers from 2013.

The government is also proposing a £400 per week cap on families receiving housing benefits, applicable for families in properties with more than three bedrooms.

Ms Abbott said: "The cap on housing benefit will have a huge effect on many residents in Hackney, but it will hit the large number of Orthodox Jewish families particularly hard.

"Families in the Orthodox Jewish community typically have more than four children, and many of them rent privately, so the limits on benefits will have a devastating impact."

She said Charedi families could be forced from the area and further out of London, away from their synagogues and schools.

But representatives of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations and Agudas Israel Housing Association said it was too early to assess the impact the cuts might have.

Chanoch Kesselman, UOHC executive co-ordinator, said the proposals were yet to raise any concerns within Stamford Hill's Charedi community.

    Last updated: 5:17pm, October 7 2010