Archive for November 28th, 2011

Universal Credit… the warning

According to the Shadow Employment minister Stephen Timms, the current tax credit system was better at supporting people who wanted to escape unemployment by setting up their own business.

However, Labour has claimed that the Government’s Universal Credit could hit small business start-ups, .

During Work and Pensions Questions in the Commons Stephen Timms said:

“The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group has said tax credits today support self-employment much better than the proposals for universal credit will in the future. This is because universal credit will assume people are earning at least the minimum wage which is completely unrealistic in the early years of self employment.

He asked the government to look again at this particular issue with universal credit, at least for the first year or two of self employment…

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

We will be monitoring very carefully how decisions we take around Universal Credit work.


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The Times & Telegraph report of a backlog in the benefits system

The Times & The Daily Telegraph have reported today that the backlog of appeals by welfare claimants against the removal of their benefits is now long enough that the government has had to hire 84 new judges to deal with it.

Both the Times and the Telegraph write that for the first time extra posts have been needed since 2007, when only ten Social Entitlement Chamber judges were recruited to oversee welfare appeals. In recent months 84 have been hired to help to deal with the caseload, at a pro-rata salary of £101,000 per year.

Under the programme to check whether all 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit are actually fit to work about 11,000 claimants a week are being reassessed. Judges have warned about the growing queue of people appealing against being taken off benefits.

In 2010-11 the number of appeals in the Social Entitlement Chamber, where welfare appeals are heard, were 23 per cent higher than the preceding year and 72 per cent up on 2008-09.


On one level it is clearly showing that the government is serious about reform and that it is having a real affect. Others will argue however that this shows that the government is getting it seriously wrong

…….maybe the truth is somewhere between these two stools… no pun intended

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Don’t rob Penny to pay Paul – lone parents and young people both need help to get back to work!

I am not an expert on youth unemployment, and I try in these blogs to be factual and informative rather than campaign on particular issues.

But, for goodness sake, and from direct first hand experience of how tough it is out there for families, I would say to the government: PLEASE don’t make the help for young people come at the expense of supporting familes with young children who receive Working Tax Credit.

I have spent this week running a Take three days W2W programme with mothers, mainly lone parents, in East London. They are trying so hard to get back to work. These are women who are spending hours each day looking on-line, knocking on doors, going on courses, volunteering, and sending out CVs and application forms. Their three big concerns are

  1. The cost of childcare
  2. Making sure work pays
  3. That employers will want younger people with work experience

The coalition government’s reduction in childcare support for working families has been a big blow to lone parents.  If this is combined with a cut in the uprating of WTC and direct subsidies for young people with-out any extra help for lone parents they feel that the ladder is being pulled out from under them as they are struggling to get their foot on the first rung.

And remember Lone Parents attract no extra premium on the Work Programme.

Everyone who is out of work needs support commensurate with the barriers they face. It is certainly right to help young people. But not at the expense of those who have children.


Liz Sewell

Programme Director
Take three days



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