'Tax Credit Bombshell To Cost Families £500'

Up to a million families each stand to lose an average of £511 a year under tax and benefit changes, according to research.

Anti-poverty campaigners dubbed the start of the financial year Bad Friday, warning cuts totalling more than £2bn were taking effect over the Easter weekend.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the impact calculated by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) was proof of a "tax credits bombshell" with up to a million households losing eligibility entirely.

Mr Balls said the IFS figures revealed a "bombshell".

"Families on middle and low incomes are this weekend facing a tax credits bombshell from David Cameron and George Osborne," he said.

"For all the Government's talk about increasing the personal allowance, these independent figures show that while they may be giving with one hand they are taking much more away with the other."

Labour pointed to Government figures suggesting more than 850,000 families stood to lose their child tax credit - worth around £545 per year - from the start of the financial year.

Another 212,000 couples on less than £17,000 a year would lose working tax credit unless they were able to increase their hours of employment, the opposition said.

Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham said: "Some of the poorest working families will lose thousands of pounds from their annual income, leaving them in a desperate struggle to pay for basics like groceries, clothes and household bills."

As political sniping continued over the effects of last month's Budget, the Treasury retorted by claiming the average household would be £6.50 a week better off.

More than 15 times as many would see an improvement to their finances than would be worse-off thanks to an increase in income tax allowances, Economic Secretary Chloe Smith said.

"We're taking millions out of tax altogether by raising the personal allowance, which will put up to £126 cash back in people's pockets," she said.

"The basic state pension is also going up by its largest-ever cash sum and there are increases in most other benefits."