Jewish families are being forced to go without basic necessities because of a new government cap on tax credits paid to parents.
Welfare experts from the strictly Orthodox community have warned the policy will result in a disproportionate number of Charedim living in poverty.
Ruth Erblich, from the Agudas Israel Community Services which provides welfare assistance and advice to families in Stamford Hill, said: “We are seeing a large number of clients who are being affected by this cap.
“We are trying to help people see how they can better manage their income to survive. In most cases, parents will do without in order to provide for their children.”
The cap limits the amount of child tax credit working families on low incomes can claim. They are restricted to claiming for only two children, with a maximum credit available of £2,780 per child.
Previously, parents could receive the credit for every child they had. Now, children born into large families after April are no longer eligible.
Charedi families are typically larger and experts suggest they could be worse off by more than £10,000 a year.
Mrs Erblich said: “As this cap has only just been introduced, the real damage is still in the future, as the number of children affected in households grows and the cumulative impact of poverty really hits.”
She added that “some people were not aware that it would be affecting them. I have come across a number of people who have either recently had a baby or are due soon and were not aware.
“The overall fear, just as outside the Jewish community, is that families will not manage and firstly parents and then children will be living under the poverty line.”
Chaya Spitz, chief executive of the Interlink Foundation, a strictly Orthodox charity, suggested that Jewish families would suffer disproportionately.
She said more than 50 per cent of Jewish children were in families with more than two children, compared to children in wider society where the figure was 30 per cent.
“We don’t know exactly how many of these are reliant on tax credits, but it will be a significant number. We expect over the coming years we will see a stark increase in hardship, and families who simply cannot pay for their basic living costs.”