Friday, 21 November 2008


This is a story I found on the BBC News Website today, and it highlights the difficulties that many people across the UK could be facing if or when the new welfare plan comes into place. This is what the BBC Article said,

Ministers may now have to rethink or delay plans to force lone parents, disabled people and the long-term jobless to seek work, a senior government adviser has said.
Sir Richard Tilt said reforms in Wales, England and Scotland could "push people into poverty" as unemployment rises.

From next week, lone parents will have to look for work once their youngest child is 12 or face losing benefits.

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell said plans should offer support to the jobless, not penalise them.
Sir Richard, who is head of the social security advisory committee, said the so-called "welfare to work" reforms risked "falling into disrepute". He called for the changes to be delayed by one or two years.

Currently, single parents can claim income support solely on the basis of being a lone parent until their youngest child is 16.
But from Monday, those with children aged 12 and over will no longer be able to make a new claim for income support. Instead, they will be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance if they are actively looking for work. The total amount they can receive will be almost exactly the same, but anyone not complying with the new rules could face sanctions, including having their benefits cut by up to 40%. Sir Richard said: "Benefit rates are relatively low and if you are going to reduce someone's benefit for a few weeks by 40% you are pushing people much closer to poverty. "Of course, the child will suffer, but it's not the child that has fallen foul of the system."

These plans deliberately target the vulnerable, as they have no power and no real voice.

Sir Richard said he was concerned about the availability of suitable, affordable childcare for lone parents affected by the changes, he said there was often a particular reason that the lone parent was staying at home.
"It may be to do with disability or chronic illness, or in some cases it may be to do with behavioural problems," he said. "So pushing the lone parent in those circumstances into work may actually not be in everybody's interest.
"In many cases it will be harmful and lead to further behavioural problems."

Mr Purnell said it was more vital than ever to help the jobless seek employment.
"What we are saying is people should take up the support which we know works.
"I think it would be wrong at a time when it may be harder for people to find work to provide them with less help."

Dawn Harrison, from Sidcup, south-east London, told BBC Breakfast she had to give up her job when childcare for her daughters aged 12 and 13 became too expensive.
"What it was they wanted, £1,000 up front over the summer holidays and I haven't got that sort of money," she said.
"I couldn't see the point of struggling with money, going to work and looking after them at the same time."

For lone parents already claiming income support, the changes will be phased in depending on the age of the youngest child.
From March 2009, parents of 14 and 15-year-olds will no longer be able to claim income support and from July 2009, the change will extend to parents of 12 and 13-year-olds.
By October 2010, lone parents with children aged seven and over will be required to look for work in order to get benefits.
According to the government, there are 1.8m lone parents in the UK, 56.3% of whom are in work.
There are 738,600 lone parents on income support, and of those, just over 100,000 have children aged 12 and above.

If we look at Stoke on Trent alone, I only commented the other day, how many young mothers there actually are. Some, no older than 16-17. Many of these young ladies, are trying to fit looking after a baby, carry on studying, or doing full time/part time work, so I do think these young mum's sometimes get a fair amount of unnecessary criticism. They deserve all the help and support they can get. Sadly, we have those that see having a baby as a quick way of getting a council house, this does happen, I have heard the conversation many times. This is a sad state of affairs, so, this may be one good example of where the new plans could discourage these young girls.

We have many parents, who are left single, through marriage breakups, or loss of a partner, who work hard to hold down a job, and fit in looking after the kids and home. Are they getting extra money to help with finances, if not, they should be?

If we hear what Dawn Harrison says, she had to give up work, because child care became too expensive. This is a problem many families and single parents face, paying out large amounts of money on child care, very often amounting to nearly all of the wages they earn.

We are trying to get people off the jobless list, but, how many people are currently having their working hours cut, or face the possibility of redundancy. The situation will probably get worse, before it gets better. It is any easy statement to make, to cut people's benefits, but we have the genuine people who are looking for work, day in, day out, but simply cannot find employment. Should we penalise these people, by cutting down on benefits, I think not.

What do you think?


Shaun Bennett said...

I know this is probably going to sound very harsh and politically incorrect; but many of the people on welfare are there due to their own mistakes and stupidity earlier in their lives. We seem to suffer from some inherent idea that none of us ever need to be responsible for our actions because the government will do it all for us.

So we have young mothers who get pregnant at an early age-and I'm sorry, but I have never believed that its 'just one of those things that can happen'. It happens because of their own stupidity. We have some young mothers who make the same 'mistake' time and time again and end up living in a council house with five children by the age of 25. And then they carry on having more and then start to complain that the council isn't giving them a bigger house, or that they're not getting enough benefit to pay for them all! Why didn't they just stop having more children? Because its up to the government to sort it all out for them.

What about the case of the family living in the council house who complain to the council that their heating/water/gas etc is on the blink, or because there is some other defect with the house? Many of them complain and complain and if nothing is done, they don't take action to fix the problem themselves, they just continue to suffer and complain until 'the government' does something about it.

If they have a problem, its all the fault of 'the government'; if they keep having babies its all the fault of 'the government', if they're overweight its because 'the government' didn't tell them not to eat as much, if they are not educated enough to get a good job its because 'the government' didn't give them a chance at school etc, etc, etc.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

Now there are many who are on welfare because they NEED it, and because they have no choice. If they have had an accident that has incapacitated them, or if they have lost their job through no fault of their own. Those people SHOULD get adequate provisions from welfare until they are able to provide for themselves again-and in some cases perhaps they never can.

But welfare should be a minimum required to survive, and it should only be issued to those who really need it and have no choice. This is a principle that both major parties have now long accepted.

However, I agree that the desire to cut welfare bills often goes to far and often hit those that really need the service. That's because its easier to impose blanket cuts than it is to pinpoint those who can have their benefits withdrawn because they don't really need it anymore. We need to be much much tougher to try and get people off welfare, and that way we can actually give those that need it more.

Unfortunately, the solution will be found in changing mind-sets, a culture of dependency in some areas and perhaps a radical shakeup of the philosophy behind everything that government provides from education onwards.

But we need to accept that many of these people on benefit now have already ruined their own futures through their own stupidity as children. There's probably nothing that we can do about that, and so we can probably not expect drastic cuts in welfare for another generation or two-at least not without abandoning thousands to total poverty. The key needs to be to concentrate on TODAY's youngsters to stop them from falling into the same trap.

nita said...

Shaun, that is an excellent response.

I agree, we need to address the issue of these young girls getting pregnant, and like you say, very often go on to have more and more Some, like you say, then expect the Government to pay out for everything. Many do not, and do go out to work, so we cannot judge them all the same. However, mistakes do happen, even when protection has been taken. My daughter is 16, and she has been given all the information. They do cover it all, through high school, in PDP (personal development) lessons. She has also had packs of information from college. So, the advice is out there, but sadly some, are choosing to ignore it.

I do agree that some people simply do get used to living on welfare, and know nothing else. Very often, they may get more money than a person going out to work, so the attitude is, why get a job and end up earning less money.

Very often, it is the people who are losing jobs, through no fault of their own, that end up being told, you can only claim a small amount of money, and end up with no financial assistance. This is something that drives me mad, as it is so wrong.

Yes, like you say, there are some genuine cases, where welfare is needed. So, we really need to get an even balance, and make sure those that need it are looked after, and those that simply can't be bothered, are made to look for work. That is easier said than done at the moment, jobs are very difficult to find.

warren said...

I wanted to say something, but Shaun stole my thunder. I'd just add one thing:-
Get a bloody job, you bunch of good for nowt lay abouts. Shaun's a Conserative, and far to polite and upper class yo say that, I'm working class and brassed off with taxes I pay going to the idele, so I'll say it.
What happens is the folks who have fell out of work becouse of redundtacey are soon brought under presoure to get another job and becouse of a good work record will not have much problems get another job when a upturn comes. This leaves the likes of the singel mothers still main lineing money from the welfair state, and always will. Unless there is a opening for someone to liy on there backs with there legs open wide.

nita said...

Well said Warren, Me and Shaun were just saying it all politely!!

warren said...

Well you can count on me to put in plain English, bollocks to them.

nicky said...

“Lone parents will have to look for work once their youngest child is 12 or face losing benefits.” This seems entirely reasonable to me as, unless there are some sort of special circumstances, out of school childcare is not necessary beyond that age. I don’t see Dawn Harrison’s problem at all. Once childcare is not necessary there is no reason to treat a lone parent differently from anyone else with regard to being out of work. I don’t however agree with reducing that age from 12 down to 7, which would require childcare.

It is childcare costs and availability for younger children that may prevent the parent working, particularly if they can not get a reasonably well paid job. However the child tax credit helps a good deal with this – a labour policy I approve of. Another labour policy I approve of is the introduction of more nurseries and after school clubs. This makes it a lot easier for parents now to find childcare than it was for me when my children were young. I succeeded but it was a struggle and there was a lack of choice and long waiting lists.

I do think Sir Richard Tilt has a point given the current economic situation though. To introduce a change which requires more people to seek work in an environment of rising unemployment will not work so well, so it may be a good idea to delay it.

The other thing that the government may regret doing is raising the minimum age at which someone can opt to retire at the request of their employer and draw their pension, from 50 to 55. Now this is a bit of poor labour policy in my view. People were allowed to opt out of paying into pension schemes and it was complicated because there were a lot of different weird and wonderful schemes. So government moaned that people weren’t paying enough into pension schemes, but at the same time, they had a cap on how much people were allowed to pay in! They sorted that one out a couple of years back and removed the cap. Typical example of labour screwing things up and then firefighting their own mess. So now, if people have enough accumulated to retire reasonably young and live on their pensions, they are being prevented from doing this so easily. This is daft, why not let people retire if they wish and allow other people more chance of a job, especially in times when finding a job will be harder.

warren said...

I saw something on this on the BBCs website at the weekend, some woman who looked about 200 years old whinging her tits off about not wanting her girl turn into a latch-key kid, the problem was the girl looked old enought to be married and left home, silly old cow her. I must agree with Nicky when the youngest sprog goes to high school, its time to get them buggers back in the job market, part time at the least, but 7 is a bit to mutch to ask.