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Archive for the ‘Lone Parents’ Category

DWP announce new benefit rates for 2012-13

This publication gives the full list of proposed social security benefits rates for 2012. The annual up-rating of benefits will take place for state pensions and most other benefits in the week beginning 9 April 2012.

 

Benefit rates 2012-2013

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Welfare reform and the affect in Norwich

Dozens of charities and organisations came together for a seminar in Norwich City Council over the weekend to discuss the potential impact of the Welfare Reform Bill.

Top on the agenda was the fear that thousands of people in Norwich would end up worse off because of proposed changes to housing benefit, disability allowances, council tax benefit and child maintenance. In particular, there was alarm that under proposals of bringing all benefits together under the Universal Credit, benefits would be capped and housing benefit cut for people who had “spare” rooms.

Labour Peer Baroness Hollis recognised that they now needed to go on the offensive. Baronness Hollis recognised that the principles of the Universal Credit was good but the problem was that it was part of a turf war between the Department forWork and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government. The impact would be severest on the poorest people in the community.

Shelter also had serious misgivings;

Lesley Burdett, Shelter’s service manager in Norwich, said: “These welfare reforms are a big concern for Shelter. We see it is undermining housing need for lots of individuals, particularly in Norwich.

Particular concerns included plans to cut housing benefit to people in social housing who live in homes which are “too big” for them.

An estimated 2,820 council tenants in Norwich could be affected by these proposals. Tenants with one spare room who decide not to move are set to lose up to 15 per cent of their housing benefit and those with two or more could lose 25per cent from April 2013.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, was one of 18 Church of England Bishops who signed an open letter calling for the government to think again over the shake-up, which includes a planned £500-a-week benefits cap for families.

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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

www.takethreedays.com

 

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Latest news from yesMinister

 

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Welfare Reform: Where are we?

House of Lords that’s where

 

The 2011 Welfare Reform Bill is now in Grand Committee Stage in the House of Lords.

  • It will replace existing out-of-work benefits and tax credits with a single Universal Credit.
  • In-work conditionality (see Briefing note 11) will be defined by an earnings threshold: the equivalent of a 35-hour week on the national minimum wage (currently £212.80). Workers who fall below this threshold must increase their work.

 

  • The threshold for single parents with a child under 13 will be about 20 hours with gross pay of £120. With children over 12 they will be expected to work full time within 90 minutes of their home.

 

  • Conditionality will be Personalised (see Briefing note 12). Mothers and fathers will be treated as separate individuals rather than as a family. With a child under 13, one must be designated as the carer who will be under the same conditionality as a single parent. The other will be treated as a single worker. A couple with children over 12 will both be expected to work 35 hours.

 

 

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Lone parents with 5 and 6 year olds to move on to JSA – Implications for Advisers

Lone parents whose youngest child is aged between 5 and 6 have started to receive letters informing them that next year they will be moving off Income Support and onto JSA. This is a fulfilment of the Conservative Party Manifesto pledge.

In this blog I want to outline some key issues for Employment Advisers to consider..

30,000 More Lone Parents on JSA
The JSA figures show that parents of older children find it easier to move into work than those with younger a child. Around 35,000 additional Lone Parents joined JSA when parents of children aged 12-15 were included. By the time the age was down to 7 a further 70,000 had joined, with around 50,000 of those being parents of 7 and 8 year olds. It is likely that another 30-50,000 parents will join between 2012 and 2013.

Demographics
The majority of the clients will be women under 35. It will be worthwhile considering how your office looks to them.  Does it feel welcoming and safe.  Will they have opportunities to meet with other parents like themselves?

Job requirements
Many will seek part-time, school hours, term-time work. This greatly diminishes the number of jobs available to them and often condemns them to minimum wage jobs – which make it hard to be much better off in work. Have you got an approach to encourage parents to feel more confident to take on a broader range of jobs.

Academic year
We know lone parents will best be able to make meetings in term-time and school hours. But it is worthwhile considering the time of year the appointment is made. How can you take advantage of the rhythm of the school year to help parents move into work. We are working on a project looking at how to use the time before the Summer holidays and Christmas to focus parents on future j0b seeking. I’ll let you know how that gets on.

Childcare – build up confidence
Parents who have used childcare, whether formal or family, find it easier to get back to work. But we need to remember that five and six year olds can find school more stressful than younger children find full time nursery. In such cases it would be much better for parents to build up their childcare use over time rather than be expecting their children to start only when they start work.

See Take Three Days

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Families will lose out with the abolition of the CSA

 

Gingerbread charity says nearly 300,000 families could go without child maintenance under proposals announced  in the welfare Reform bill.

Almost half the single parents who use the Child Support Agency (CSA) would not be able to afford to pay the fees to access the new child maintenance service, according Gingerbreads survey.

The poll found that 46% would not be able to afford the application fee of £100, or £50 for those on benefits.

The survey found that 72% of respondents said they would be unable to agree private arrangements with their former partners, which means their children could go without maintenance support.

Under proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill the CSA is to be phased out and be replaced by a child maintenance system which will include a compulsory “gateway” service for those seeking to claim money.

Single parents would have to show they had taken “reasonable steps” to set up an arrangement with their former partner otherwise they would have to pay the application fee of £100 or £50, as well as an ongoing charge of between 7% and 12% of the money collected by the service.

The department said its own research showed around 75% of fathers using the CSA and 51% of parents with care (mostly mothers) could make arrangements with the right help and support.

Welfare Reform Bill

Relevant clauses

 

Yes Minister comment

This will undoubted cause significant problems for families up and down the country… Through this measure the the unintended consequence is that thousands of families will be discouraged from apply and their families will be worse off:

The Coalition needs to be careful that it does not fall foul of the maxim that it “Knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing”

 

Eyullahemaye Henry-Miller

 

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