Splitting up doesn’t mean child benefit changes

benefit changes for couples

benefit changes for couplesNew research suggests that relationship difficulties leading to a split won't necessarily have a negative or positive impact on family economics, or be affected by child benefit changes.

Politicians from all parties previously believed that the benefits system rewards former couples with children who lived separately, but it seems that this is not the case.

The study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation - called Does the Tax and Benefit System Create a Couple Penalty? - also suggests that working families on lower incomes have as much chance of being worse off as being better off with child benefit from a split.

The study argues that the total cost of living for families increases if a couple splits as they have to look after two houses, regardless of whether the total income or child benefit for the family increases too.

The foundation studied everyday household expenditure and needs in comparison to any added income or child benefit changes after a split and found that the economic impact was negligible.

Chris Goulden, the foundation's policy and research manager, said: "Our report shows it would be misguided to base benefit reform on the idea that couples with children are being incentivised to split up. This is not borne out by careful analysis of the evidence."

Author of the study Donald Hirsch, director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy at the University of Loughborough, said: "These calculations show that there is at least as likely to be an economic penalty for separating as for remaining as a couple.

"The exact comparisons depend on assumptions about how much cheaper it is for two adults to live together.

Child benefit reforms

Indeed, it seems that the most important things to consider when going through relationship difficulties are more personal rather than economic, as financially children may not be affected by a split.

However, there is plenty of advice on child benefit changes and how it can affect your family available.

Speaking about the results of the study, Hirsch was critical of possible reforms to child benefit touted by many politicians in the past: "The official figures, which say that a couple's day to day costs are 16% lower living in one household rather than in two, were set arbitrarily in order to monitor poverty trends.

"It is highly risky to plan benefit reforms as if they accurately measured relative needs.

"In fact, our research estimates that the saving from living in a couple is much higher, about 26%.

"Even on the official figures, there is no couple penalty for out-of-work families. There are more cases where there is a separation penalty than a couple penalty."