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WelfareReformLoneParents

Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 11 months ago

Welfare Reform:

Lone Parents

 

 

Please see our latest Press Release: Every Single Parent Matters.

Campaign pages start here: Postcard campaign 

 

The continuing saga ...

 

Table Of Contents:


 

 

related links:

history of this story

Lone Parents

Parliamentary Questions

 

Government Accused of Impoverishing Children through Forced Labour Regime.

 

 

AHEd-Schoolhouse Press Release:

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE FROM ACTION FOR HOME EDUCATION AND SCHOOLHOUSE

For immediate release, Friday 9 May 2008

 

 

GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF IMPOVERISHING CHILDREN THROUGH FORCED LABOUR REGIME FOR LONE PARENTS

 

 

Action for Home Education (AHEd) 1 and Scotland's national home education support organisation, Schoolhouse 2, have jointly expressed deep dismay and disappointment at the UK Government's decision to remove the safety net of Income Support (IS) from lone parents whose youngest child is aged 12 years from November 2008. The age threshhold will subsequently be reduced so that, by 2010, lone parents will be required to actively seek work when their youngest child reaches seven.

 

 

While the Government claims it will help "lift children out of poverty", the move promises to cause extreme stress and hardship for many families, including those who home educate, those whose children have special needs or disabilities and those who have been abandoned by partners, as well as widowed parents and mothers fleeing domestic violence.

 

 

Despite warnings from individuals and organisations representing vulnerable families that children will be further impoverished as a result 3, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has indicated that it will press on with draconian measures to force lone parents into work as soon as their children reach the designated age threshhold, regardless of individual circumstances.

 

 

Danny Alexander MP has tabled a Parliamentary Question 4 seeking Government reassurances in relation to specific vulnerable groups who will be thrown into financial crisis by the new rules and for whom it was strongly felt that there should be no extension of conditionality during the 'In Work Better Off' consultation.

 

 

Meanwhile, Tom Clarke MP has indicated that he is to table further Parliamentary Questions seeking clarification from the Minister as to which specific regulations will apply, following the withdrawal of Income Support, to "home educating lone parents who are already engaged in full time employment providing a full time education for their children".

 

 

AHEd chair Barbara Stark said: "One of our members received via her MP a wholly unsatisfactory and insulting response from the Minister, Stephen Timms, who suggests that home educating parents can be much more flexible in their working arrangements than schooling parents. Who exactly will be available to look after and educate children while their parents are at work outside the home? These parents are already working hard with parenting and education responsibilities and doing an excellent job. Does the Minister only deem child care and education to be 'work' if it is undertaken by someone other than the parent?"

 

 

AHEd and Schoolhouse have challenged the Government to explain how it is possible to lift children out of poverty by removing IS payments from lone parents when they will effectively be precluded from claiming JSA due to already having full time caring and/or educational responsibilities. In particular they have questioned the justification for withdrawing IS from home educating parents when the costs to keep a child in school are considerably greater than the costs of providing benefits.

 

 

Schoolhouse convener Alison Preuss said: "These UK Government proposals were first flagged up in January 2007 by one of our members who was concerned that lone parents home educating their children, often through necessity as a result of special needs or disabilities, would have their Income Support withdrawn if they did not make themselves available for paid employment. Tom Clarke MP subsequently obtained assurances from the then Minister John Hutton that home educating lone parents' responsibilities would be fully recognised 5, but the Government has now indicated that no exceptions will be made to its forced labour regime for single parents."

 

 

Despite the revenue savings to the Treasury, the Minister suggests that home educating families are receiving a subsidy by accepting subsistence benefits, stating in his letter: "The Government position is that parents who choose to home educate their children will not receive any financial assistance from the State for doing so. It is therefore consistent with the Government principles. Under the new welfare reform changes, we require home educators to look for work when their child reaches the new relevant age threshold."

 

 

AHEd and Schoolhouse have jointly condemned the Minister's failure to recognise that schools are unable to accommodate the needs of a significant number of young people, leaving some parents no choice but to take full responsibility for their children's education, since schools are unable or unwilling to provide for the needs of individual children. Pete Derby, AHEd Correspondent for Wales said, "the government is proposing to punish parents for taking care of their children. These measures supposedly aimed at lifting children out of poverty will force vulnerable children into dangerous situations. As the minister's predecessor stated, forcing parents to prioritise paid employment above their parenting responsibility would be wrong in principle and damaging to the health and well-being of children."

 

 

Former home educator, Karen Best, who was a lone parent reliant entirely on IS until her daughter reached school leaving age, has also spoken out against the government's proposals which she believes will remove an essential lifeline from desperate parents. Describing her own circumstances, she said: "I removed my daughter, who has profound learning difficulties and special needs, from school when she was 10 years old after a prolonged period of bullying which had resulted in her self harming and threatening suicide. I was a single parent on Income Support and struggling to cope financially as well as with an extremely unhappy child.

Since the school and local authority failed to deal with the problems, home education became the only option for us and we never looked back, although I lost entitlement to free school meals and clothing vouchers as soon as I removed my daughter from school and got no support or resources from the local authority. Now, it seems, the Governnment wants to completely pull the financial rug out from under the most vulnerable parents and children. How on earth can they justify impoverishing children and penalising single parents in this way?"

 

 

Karen went on to obtain higher qualifications and now works full time in the travel industry, while her daughter Charlene, now 20, is currently on a work experience placement, having previously undertaken supported learning at her local further education college. Commenting on her own experience, Charlene said: "I hated school so much because it was full of bullies and the teachers didn't want to know about it. I have a great life now because home education saved me from the bullies."

 

 

Gill Kilner is another parent who with her son, Tom, has never looked back since taking up home education because the school did not recognise his severe dyslexia was making schoolwork impossible. Gill says, "at only nine years old, he was sinking into depression, sleeping badly and starting to behave in very uncharacteristic ways both at school and at home. Thank goodness I was able to home educate. I don't think my son would have survived well at all in the system but ten years on he is still in home education, preparing to go into business."

 

 

ENDS

 

 

For further information, please contact:

Barbara Stark on (phone)or ahed@ahed.org.uk

Alison Preuss on (phone)or media@schoolhouse.org.uk

 

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

1 See www.ahed.org.uk

http://ahed.pbwiki.com/

 

 

2 See www.schoolhouse.org.uk

 

 

3 One Parent Families/Gingerbread comments on the proposals when first mooted:

 

 

"One Parent Families .. warned that any moves to place tougher conditions on claiming benefits for parents with secondary school age children would be the wrong approach.

 

 

"Those with children in this age group who are not working often have very good reasons for being at home full-time. Lone parents want help in getting over the hurdles they face when they are ready to work, not further impoverishment when they are needed at home."

 

 

4 Lib Dem spokesperson for Work and Pensions, Danny Alexander, MP, has tabled the following PQ:

 

 

"To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he thinks that lone parents receiving income support should be subject to increased conditionality in cases where they are a) parents of disabled children b) carers of both disabled children and adults c) mothers fleeing domestic violence d) parents who choose to home educate."

 

 

5 Excerpts from a reply by John Hutton, former DWP Minister, to Tom Clarke MP in February 2007:

 

 

"We have been very clear that we are not proposing to force lone parents into work, nor cut lone parent benefits - this would be wrong in principle and damaging to the health and well-being of children. It is a matter of individual choice for each lone parent as to whether they look to move into work or continue to claim benefits.

 

 

"I hope this reassures your constituent that our aim is to help those parents for whom work is a realistic option to take the necessary steps so that they can get back to work and lift their families out of poverty"

 

 

~~~~~

 

The Minister States:

 

No Financial Assistance!

 

"The Government position is that parents who choose to home educate their children will not receive any financial assistance from the State for doing so"

 

Are Home Educators a Special Case?

 

No!

 

Here the minister refers to the specific difficulties we bring up in relation to lone parents who are home educating: i.e. they may not be available for paid employment.

 

But substitute, "parents who choose to home educate their children" with, "parents who choose to stay at home to look after the needs of their children" or, "parents who prioritise their family needs over paid employment," etc etc and you will see that the statement applies to all lone parents. No lone parents should have their parenting responsibilities directed by government dictat under threat of extreme poverty.

 

(The measures are now starting to be introduced also in two parent families with the partner who is not in paid employment because they are taking care of children and whose spouse or partner is in receipt of JSA also being required to attend work focussed interview after a time.)

 

The government will no longer support the parent as the main carer of the child. This is a cultural shift. What has always been known as a welfare state, subsistence level, safety net benefit against poverty and deprivation is now rebranded as "Financial Assistance." (Let us call it "F.A." for short. This may already have been thought of.) Anyway, now parents are not going to get it!

 

Children need parents!

 

Once we all knew this, however, such is the tragedy of government dogma, ignorance and interference in family life that one feels the requirement to rehearse some baby steps!

 

Where a child has only one parent, that one parent must be allowed and supported in our society in order to make parenting decisions for that child, such as whether the child needs to be in school or whether the child needs to be at home to fulfil their right to an efficient full time education suitable for their age, ability, aptitude and any special needs they may have. This is the education that home educating parents have been providing for their children, quietly, routinely and without fuss to anyone, often from birth and with excellent results.

 

Such an education is the child's right enshrined in law; and it is the parent's responsibility to ensure it is achieved. Many families find that the needs of the child mean that one parent is required to be at home looking after these needs. Often this might mean one parent is fully employed at home and not available to take up paid employment. If every child matters to this government, they must accept that this is the right of each child!

 

The DWP has now put a cap on this right to parent their own child for lone parents on benefits. For them, parental responsibility in this matter will end, replaced by bureaucratic decision and regulation, when the child reaches seven years of age. The argument put forward for this is that child care is available and that the child "should" have settled in school, thus leaving the parent free to take up paid employment. The minister has specifically stated that home educating parents will be expected to take up such employment. If they do not they will lose benefits. Threatening any parent with the well being of their child is a heartless act. The following extract from a comment posted on "They Work for You" (Tom Clarke MP, written answer, parliamentary question,) shows an extreme case for which Mr Timms makes no exception to his cruel ruling that lone parents of children over seven years, and who are in receipt of income support no longer have the right to decide whether their parental duties are such that they are free to take employment:

 

" I have home edded my son for four years. My local LEA, said in their report, that it is clear that he is thriving.

They expressed a great deal of good supportive feedback, which I am very happy to share with the government as they consider us.

 

 

My son is extremely distressed at the prospect of his whole educational support bieng removed. He will have to fend for himself for four hours a day. A long time for a twelve year old. The idea of returning to school made all of his eczema return...

 

... his stress levels were so severe, his hair started thinning as he was pulling it out. At school he developed a stammer and it has been lovely watching him recover from the ordeals he endured at school.

 

 

All of the progress will be severely impeded ... I am racking my brains and in a state of disbelief at the new proposals. They are devastating to our little two person family. We try really hard to get on in life, as its hard when there's only two. Work would just antagonise my situation.

 

...I beg, anyone out there to quantify the point at which this change in the law is wrong for us. ... Please fight for us.

We are without hope at the moment."

 

 

Compare and Contrast:

 

The Minister (DWP) in 2007

(John Hutton.)

 

"..we have been very clear that we are not proposing to force lone parents into work, nor cut lone parent benefits- this would be wrong in principle and damaging to the health and well-being of children. It is a matter of individual choice for each lone parent as to whether they look to move into work or continue to claim benefits"

...

"I hope this reassures your constituent that our aim is to help those parents for whom work is a realistic option to take the necessary steps so that they can get back to work and lift their families out of poverty"

 

The Minister (DWP) 2008

(Stephen Timms.)

 

(lone parents) "will not be eligible to continue to claim Income Support when the new rules are introduced. They will, under the JSA regulations, be required to demonstrate they are seeking work..."

 

What is this but a forced labour regime under the threat of financial sanction regardless of family need? This will, indeed, be wrong in principle and detrimental to children.

 

Call to Action!

 

Are lone parents the new "Undeserving Poor"?

 

Do you want to see benefits withdrawn and financial sanctions imposed on the poorest families?

 

Do you want to see lone parents penalised if they cannot combine paid employment and family responsibilities?

 

Do you support a forced labour regime under threat of extreme poverty?

 

 

Does your MP?

 

Ask them!

 

The consultation launched by DWP on regulations is very complicated. However, this issue is simple. What is your MP prepared to inflict on the children of lone parents?

 

Before the summer recess, 2008, MPs will vote on Social Security regulations now being pushed through. Will your MP support attacks on lone parents?

 

It must remain the responsibility of parents to decide if the need to be available for their children and the demand to take paid employment can be reconciled. In removing the responsibility for this decision from parents and putting it into the hands of advisors at job centre plus who will follow regulations about what is acceptable, the government will be dividing the poor from whom they consider the undeserving. The underserving will face financial sanctions plunging them below the poverty line.

 

We have seen this attitude before...

 

In the workhouse!

 

It is now up to the nation's Members of Parliament. What do they have to say and what will they do for some of the poorest and most disadvantaged of our people?

 

Vote Against the Regulations!

 

~~~~~

 

Write to Your MP:

 

 

I think we should have a campaign of asking some simple questions of our MPs and put them on the spot! Let's let them know we are watching them!

 

 

Below is a letter sent to an MP that you can use as a template or guide to writing you own letter. I would urge others to write and ask their MP what they will do. If you are not sure what to write you can simply send them the link to this wiki page and ask for a response from them on the issue. Please let AHEd know of any responses you get as we are interested in responses and recording how MPs vote on this issue. We believe that as it affects the electorate and begins to sink in, this issue will not go away, and people will want to know how their MP has voted! Do they have an MP who is a pontificating passenger trying to do us all something for our own good or is their MP really worth their salt?

 

 

 

Barbara.

 

 

~~~~~

 

Sample Letter

 

Dear (your MP),
 
I am writing to ask you about your position on the welfare reforms in which lone parents will be removed from income support and required to seek work based only on the age of their youngest child, including provisions for financial sanctions against lone parents who do not accept paid employment because of family responsibilities.
 
In view of this I would like to ask you the following questions:
 
Are lone parents the new "Undeserving Poor"?
 
Do you want to see benefits withdrawn and financial sanctions imposed on the poorest families?
 
Do you want to see lone parents penalised if they cannot combine paid employment and family responsibilities?
 
Do you support a forced labour regime under threat of extreme poverty?
 
The consultation launched by DWP on regulations is very complicated. However, this issue is simple. What are you prepared to inflict on the children of lone parents?
 
Before the summer recess, 2008, MPs will vote on Social Security regulations now being pushed through. Will you support attacks on lone parents?
 
The government is seriously mistaken in proposing to remove income support from lone parents based only on the age of their youngest child in an attempt to force them into paid employment. Last year, as the minister for DWP, John Hutton MP said that this would be "wrong in principle and damaging to the health and welfare of children." It must remain the responsibility of parents to decide if the need to be available for their children and the demand to take paid employment can be reconciled. In removing the responsibility for this decision from parents and putting it into the hands of advisors at job centre plus, who will follow regulations about what is acceptable, the government will be dividing the poor from whom they consider the undeserving. The undeserving will face financial sanctions plunging them below the poverty line.
 
We have seen this attitude before...
 
In the workhouse!
 
Soon, it is going to be up to the nation's Members of Parliament voting on the regulations. When it is your turn to vote, what will you do for some of the poorest and most disadvantaged of our people?
 
(include anything you want to say about your own situation and how this would affect you, about the effect these regulations will have on home educating lone parents, or your support for the job that lone parents are doing, or for lone parents you know who are doing a good job and should not be subject to these measure, etc.)
 
Will you vote against regulations that remove the right to make parental decisions from parents and impose financial penalty on the poor through loss of benefits?
 
Yours sincerely,

(your name).

 

~~~~~

 

 

 

find your MP:

 

Here are some useful links to find and write to your MP. At the first link, you can send a letter to your MP online.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/

http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/commons/l/

 

~~~~~

 

Campaign Against the Regulations:

 

Please join in the joint campaign with AHEd and Schoolhouse to stop these regulations.

 

Welfare reform:plans to replace benefits for those in need with a forced labour regime

 

 

We, at AHEd, started with a lone parent concern, and found that the plans will eventually apply to all benefit recipients including; the sick and disabled, the bereaved, parents of small children, carers, partners of benefit recipients. So, what is happening on the ground while these proposals are still only proposals? Read on ... ... ...

 

Work Focused Interview:

 

Plans to escalate the work-focused interviews are going ahead before the regulations have even been placed before parliament, let alone being passed. Here are some … … …

 

Reports from the field ~

 

Parent One:

 

 

“I have before me a letter inviting me to a work focused interview that I must attend or I risk losing my benefit.

 

It says, “When you last came to a work focused interview we talked about how you must continue to take part in such interviews when asked to do so as part of your claim for income support…”

 

 

Note: Government proposals state that carers of children with middle or higher rate component Disability Living Allowance will be exempt from the requirement to seek work as they have caring responsibilities. So these parents will not be bullied, or threatened with loss of benefits? You would think they would be left to carry out their demanding responsibilities in peace. Wouldn’t you?

 

“… I am a single parent with full time caring responsibilities, a registered carer in receipt of carer’s allowance and whose child receives higher rate disability allowance.”

 

This parent is still being bullied despite government reassurances!

 

 

Cost of compulsory work focused interview regime relating to this client, including letters threatening withdrawal of benefit ….. Unknown

Amount of Income Support saved if parent can take up work ….. £2

 

 

 

Caring Responsibilities?

 

 

Dear Gordon and friends,

 

 

Please specify what you mean when you say those with 'caring' responsibilities will be exempt?

Are DLA/carers decision makers able to determine whether somebody is 'caring,' or has this responsibility now been placed with Joe Bloggs at the jobcentre?

 

 

 

Parent Two:

 

 

I got a form asking, “why I think I cannot work” type questions

 

I am not single, but I have 4 children on DLA (one for life with no reviews, two at high rate and one at middle. I am on middle rate for life too and a med 4 that only gets reviewed once every 20 years; but that cuts NO ice with them at all) I think they are also targeting two parent families. It takes 2 of us here to keep things on an even keel. My husband has worked in the past but it was too much for one person, i.e. me, who is also disabled, to cope day in and day out. But try telling them that. Their "solution " is to make me work instead! They also think they know better then doctors despite having no medical training whatsoever. "

 

 

 

Good Reason?

 

Government assures us that those with “good reason” will also be exempt from a requirement to seek work. Forms being sent out ask why a person“thinks” **they cannot work with a view to a work focused interview once they have read it and assessed the responses. “Advisors” at the jobcentre are given some flexibility to decide on what is a good cause for exemption from job seeking requirements. But why is “parent two” even presented with one of these forms? Do this pressure and the threat of loss of benefits not constitute state bullying of vulnerable families?

 

 

Parent three:

 

“I had to attend one of these meetings a couple of months ago after separating from my husband. I explained I'm pregnant, but still had to state when I thought I might be able to start working.

There was a query as to why I'm not working right now. I explained that I'm not physically able to with the pregnancy and my youngest child is under 5…”

 

 

Note: government welfare reform proposals are that parents with children over the age of twelve years will be moved onto Jobseekers allowance from income support. This will be reduced to parents of children aged over seven years by 2010. However, there is further talk of abolishing income support altogether to be replaced by benefits based on work

 

“I had to then explain my interests and qualifications, what work I would be doing when I *do* go back etc etc..

 

I have to return for another meeting in six months from start date of claim, which happens to be around due date of my babies, but they said they 'might be able to make allowances' for me to attend around the births.

My claim is under review already because I have a home-based appointment from a Customer Compliance Officer this Tuesday to discuss a query against my claim. It's very, very stressful.”

 

Parent Four:

 

I have had to attend a "Back to Work Interview" two weeks after attending a medical and qualifying to stay on Incapacity Benefit.

 

I explained I had just gone through my medical but they had to "dot their i's and cross their t's."

 

They asked me what effort I was making to look for work; I explained that I was not making any effort due to the medical. They asked me to put that aside (!) and concentrate on a time when I can return to work, what could I do etc. I basically had to tell them what they wanted to hear just to get out of there.

 

I was told they will not contact me again until after my next medical in March of 2009. The reason? It didn't matter if I was on Incapacity Benefit; if I or they could HELP me back to work, they would. ???

 

Incapacity?

 

By now, people have heard of government plans to replace incapacity benefit with a new benefit called Employment Support. The case of "Parent four" seems to support suspicions that this benefit will result in people who are sick or incapacitated being harassed about returning to work, even where they have to juggle this incapacity with their caring responsibilities as parents!

 

Letter to Lord Avebury

 

 

FOR THE ATTENTION OF:

 

Lord Avebury

 

House of Lords

 

 

Wednesday 10 September 2008

 

Dear Lord Avebury,

 

It was with great pleasure that AHEd 1 noted your statement during the July debate on the Education and Skills Bill, that "We ought to acknowledge that work in the home, particularly work as a mother, is every bit as valuable as work outside the home. Raising the next generation of citizens and workers is an honourable and very demanding occupation and should be recognised as such."

 

It is in light of such sentiment that we appeal to you to oppose The Statutory Instrument - The Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008 which is to be laid before both Houses, and to encourage other members of the House to do the same.

 

The regulations propose, from November 2008, to remove the safety net of Income Support (IS) from lone parents whose youngest child is aged 12 years. This age threshold will be further reduced by 2010, requiring lone parents to actively seek work when their youngest child reaches seven. Parents will be placed on job seekers allowance and face the threat of cuts in benefit. As you know, these regulations are part of the government's fundamental reforms to create a new welfare to work system.

 

AHEd members are very concerned that whilst the Government claims it will help to "lift children out of poverty", the move promises to cause extreme stress and hardship for many families, including those who home educate, those whose children have special needs or disabilities and those who have been abandoned by partners, as well as widowed parents and mothers fleeing domestic violence.

 

These proposals were first brought to our attention in January 2007 by a parent in Scotland who was concerned that lone parents home educating their children - often through necessity as a result of bullying or because the school system could not cater for their children's special needs or disabilities - would have their Income Support withdrawn if they did not make themselves available for paid employment.

 

Tom Clarke MP subsequently obtained assurances from the then Minister John Hutton that home educating lone parents' responsibilities would be fully recognised. However the Government has now indicated that no such exceptions will be made. In addition, it was strongly expressed by participants during the 'In Work Better Off' consultation, that there should be no extension of conditionality for these groups. Many of our members have contacted their MPs and there is concern amongst those MPs that these regulations will indeed cause hardship, yet so far we have failed to halt this roller coaster.

 

Despite warnings from individuals and organisations representing vulnerable families, that children will be further impoverished by these Regulations, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has indicated that it will press on and force lone parents to seek work as soon as their children reach the designated age, leaving it up to the discretion of Jobcentre staff to decide whether to allow any flexibility within the Jobseekers Allowance system in response to individual circumstances.

 

We are receiving reports from frightened parents who have been called in for work focused interviews and told they will have to take paid employment or lose benefit; some of these are parents among the few who should be exempt, such as pregnant mothers, mothers of children below the threshold age, and parents in receipt of disability benefits for themselves and/or their children, who are being misinformed by Jobcentre Plus staff seeking to impose blanket enforcement on all lone parents regardless of circumstances.

 

AHEd is concerned for all of the families who are rendered vulnerable by this proposal, but our primary concern is that, where a parent has chosen to home educate their child, they must not have this choice removed by the threat of severe poverty created by these Regulations. Parents do not make this choice lightly and in many instances there truly is no alternative for their child's educational well-being.

 

It must remain the responsibility of parents to decide if the need to be available for their children and the demands of paid employment can be reconciled. In removing the responsibility for this decision from parents and putting it into the hands of advisors at Jobcentre Plus, the government will be leaving families with stark choices between financial, educational and perhaps emotional poverty.

 

Thank you for considering our concerns and we look forward to your support.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

(Chair, AHEd.) For the committee and membership of AHEd

http://ahed.pbwiki.com/ Action for Home Education Group

 

Footnote:

1 www.ahed.org.uk Action for Home Education Group.

 

~~~~~

 

Lord Avebury - prompt support:

 

Please see attached letter to the Minister.

 

Regards,

 

Eric.

 

From Lord Avebury

 

to: The Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP,

Department for Work & Pensions,

4th floor, Caxton House,

Tothill Street,

 

 

September 11, 2008

 

Dear Stephen,

 

I attach an email I had from Ms Barbara Stark, Chair of Action for Home Education Group (AHEd) about the draft SI The Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008, which compels lone parents to go back to work as soon as their youngest child reaches the age of 10, in 2009) and then 7 in 2010. My impression is that these ages have been chosen arbitrarily by the government with the sole object of reducing the social security bill, and are not based on any evidence that the Order will achieve better outcomes for children or parents.On the contrary, there may be serious disadvantages in families with several children, where supervision by the lone parent through adolescence is necessary to keep the children in order and help them through the later stages of their school careers. Already, far too many children go off the rails in their early teens with drugs, alcohol and crime, and reducing the ability of a lone parent to counter these tendencies isn’t likely to improve the children’s prospects.

 

I personally believe that changes on the lines of this Order shouldn’t be accepted by Parliament unless and until there has been consultation on the possible social consequences, instead of the Procrustean assumption of No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility, that everyone except the most severely disabled people or others with full-time caring responsibilities is expected to work. The lone parent does have the important caring responsibility of ensuring that her children become good citizens, maximising their potential contribution to society through education, and respecting other people. We can already see the consequences of our failure to think about these values, and I fear that your policy is calculated to make things worse,

 

(signed.)

 

(a copy of the AHEd letter, above, was attached.)

 

~~~~~

 

Lord Avebury Blog

 

Sept 11th entry:

 

0 comments

 

Should lone parents be forced back to work?

From Lord Avebury

 

http://www.ericavebury.blogspot.com/

 

~~~~~

 

Reply 1 from Mr Timms:

 

25th September 2008

 

Dear Eric,

 

Thankyou for your letter dated 11th September 2008, which your highlights concerns regarding the proposed changes to lone parent entitlement to Income Support based on the age of the lone parents' youngest child and their ability to home educate their children as a result.

 

These changes are a part of the Government's committment to ensuring employment and opportunity for all and by doing so providing the best and most sustainable route out of poverty. This is especially important for lone parents because children in workless lone parent households are three times as likely to be in poverty than those where the lone parent works part time. 1 Therefore, the Government believes these measures are a balance between providing financial assistance to support families, against its wider responsibilities to lift individuals and children out of poverty.

 

As you are aware, it has been proposed, as part of the Government's programme of welfare reform, that subject to the passage of regulations, lone parents who claim Income Support (IS) solely on the grounds of being a lone parent will no longer be eligible for IS when their youngest child reaches: 12 and over from November 2008, 10 and over from October 2009, and 7 and over from October 2010. Lone parents affected by these changes will be able to claim job seekers allowance, (JSA) if they are capable of work and Employment Support Allowance, (ESA) if the are not.

 

The choice of the ages originally chosen, 12 and 7 was not arbitrary but based on the principle that these children would be in an established routine in their secondary and primary school respectively, thus minimising any disruptions if a lone parent entered work. We originally proposed to have a two staged implementation, however, after considering some of the consultation concerns about the high volumes of strain on jobcentre plus resources an extra stage was introduced for those lone parents with a child of 10 or over. This enables a smoother transition and more support to help parents make the move between benefits and later into work. This extra stage also means that the growth in the demand for childcare and other services will be spread over a longer period and will be easier for the child care sector to manage.

 

Althought the ages for implimentation were chosen to fit with an established school routine this should not be to the detriment of lone parents who home educate because the child will also be in a familiar environment. This, together with the fact that home educators are not bound by set hours, days of schooling or terms time gives them greater flexibility to fit 16 hours of paid work a week (depending on their chosen timetable, which will be different for each parent) around the education of their child(ren).

 

The decision for parents with older children was also based on research which highlighted that parental employment is the key route of poverty and disadvantage. Growing up in a workless household and/or in poverty can have a significant negative effect on a child's development. Parental employment can bring benefits to the adults involved through increased self esteem, extended social networks and a greater sense of control and reduced mental health problems all resulting in knock on benefits for children. Maternal employment in particular can be an important protection against future hardship. 2

 

Children have also reported the benefits of parental employment, and parents making the move into work have observed positive psychological benefits in their children. In a qualitative longitudinal study of low income working family life which involved interviews with mothers and children (8 - 14 years), 3 children felt their lives had improved since their mothers started work and they were protective and supportive of their mother participating in the labour market. As well as material improvements, children's social lives were clearly benefitting from increased expenditure on their activities at home and school. Some of the children in the study appeared to develop various strategies to help their mother remain in employment so as not to risk going back on benefit (and all the negative associations this has for them).

 

Finally, turning to the points made in Barbara Stark's email, the Government does recognise the right of parents' to choose to home educate their child(ren). However Government do not provide the funding to do so. Lone parents who are claiming IS and are also home educating their child(ren) receive their benefit on the sole basis that they are a lone parent and not as home educators. We are therefore treating home educators in the same way as any other lone parent who claims IS solely on the basis of being a lone parent and requiring them to look for work when their child reaches the new relevant threshhold if they are able.

 

When claiming JSA lone parents will be expected to actively seek and be available for paid work. They will complete a job seekers agreement (JSAg) with a personal advisor (PA) that sets out what they can and will do to get work. This includes the ability to reduce the hours they must be available down to 16 hours per week.

 

Regulations will be amended to allow PAs additional discretion to decide if a lone parent presents good cause for not complying with their obligations to seek or take up paid work. Reasons such as illness of the lone parent or their children or their child care support, transport difficulties, unforeseen family circumstances, domestic violence or relationship breakdown can also be considered as a good cause.

 

In order to safeguard the welfare of children the draft proposals for regulations include a further safety net to give jobcentre plus additional discretion so that a lone parent who is claiming JSA will not be penalised if they leave a job, or fail to take up a job because appropriate, affordable childcare is not available. While people will need to demonstrate that they have made genuine efforts to locate such childcare, this will provide home educators with protection if no local services that meet their needs are available. We are confident, therefore, that it will be possible for lone parents who educate their children at home to be able to home educate as well.

 

Thank you for taking the trouble to let me know your concerns about the proposed changes.

 

Yours ever,

 

Stephen Timms.

 

1 2005/2006 Household Below Average Income data

2 NM Treasury (2004) "Choices for Parents the Best Start for Children" . HMT. London. pg 68.

3 Millar, J and Ridge, T (2006) A fine balance: managing work and family life, Poverty, Autumn 2006, 125: 15-17.

 

~~~~~

Lord Avebury forwarded our response to Mr McNulty with his own letter, printed below:

 

AHEd Response:

 

Wednesday 8th October 2008

 

 

Dear Lord Avebury,

 

 

Thank you for giving AHEd the opportunity to comment on the points made by Minister Stephen Timms, in his letter dated 25th September, addressing the concerns we expressed about the draft SI, “The Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008.” As you know, AHEd is concerned about aspects of the proposed Instrument including punitive financial sanctions imposing poverty and hardship on children and their families, and consequent loss of parental right to make parenting decisions concerning their own children. Here is our response addressed to the new Minister, Mr. Tony McNulty.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

(Chair, AHEd.)

 

 

 

Dear Mr McNulty,

 

 

Following correspondence from AHEd forwarded to your department by Lord Avebury, about the draft SI “The Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008,” Mr Timms replied and these are our responses to his letter of 24th September 2008.

 

Route out of poverty:

 

 

The proposed changes are said to be part of the “Government's commitment to...providing the most sustainable route out of poverty.” However, literature suggests that parental unemployment is only one of a number of factors implicated in childhood poverty1 and that employment is not necessarily the most reliable or cost effective route out of poverty2.

 

 

Under the proposals, a number of parents will not be in work and better off, due to issues such as

 

The effect of disability3,

 

The effect over time of part-time work upon earnings4,

 

The high proportion of lone parents who will find themselves cycling in and out of low paid work,

 

The fact that a requirement to be available for work mitigates against parents undergoing training or education

 

The loss of other benefits such as, free school meals, housing benefit, delays in payment of tax credits.

 

There is also considerable evidence that those parents facing the greatest barriers to employment will be at risk of increased poverty due to the effect of sanctions.

 

Sanctions:

 

The use of sanctions will form an integral part of the proposed changes yet does not appear to be evidence based5 and, indeed, is completely contrary to what is described in the Treasury paper “Choices for Parents, the best start for children” as a central principle in the Government's Ten Year Strategy: i.e. “The legitimate expectations of families that they should be in control of the choices they make in balancing work and family life”.

 

 

We agree with the former minister for DWP, John Hutton, who stated that it would be wrong in principle and damaging to the health and well-being of children” 6 if it did not remain the responsibility of parents to decide how far the need to be available for their children and the demand to take paid employment can be reconciled, but fear we are already seeing parents pushed into a forced labour regime.

 

 

Furthermore, although it is true that poverty is negatively correlated with good educational outcomes for children, this is, in the main, not a simple causal relationship. The main action of socio-economic factors upon good outcomes for children appears to be because of their effect upon parental confidence and identification with their role, which in turn affects levels of parental engagement and involvement. The body of research is astonishingly loud and clear on this point – it is levels of parental engagement with their children that have the most impact upon good outcomes8.

 

Conditionality based on the age of the child:

 

Mr Timms said that the choice to impose conditionality upon parents when their youngest child reaches age 12 is based upon a view that a child would be in an established routine in secondary school. However research suggests that adolescence is a time when young people need particular support, and evidence from the US shows that adolescent children of parents enrolled in Welfare to Work programmes show increased behavioural problems and lower academic achievement9

 

 

In addition, literature indicates that suitable childcare places exist for only 1 in every 200 11-14 year olds10. The article mentioned by Mr Timms, “A fine balance: managing work and family life” includes a heart-breaking description of the inevitable outcome - children aged between 11 and 14 coping alone at night while mum goes out to work, getting their own house keys to enable them to lock up the family home, preparing their own evening meals and looking after younger siblings. Presumably these are the more fortunate ones – the others may simply be left roaming the streets. In removing the responsibility from lone parents to prioritise the needs of their children, the government is setting in train a situation that can only get worse as the age requirement for return to work is lowered.

 

Home Education:

 

 

Mr Timms contends that parents who are Home Educating, will have greater flexibility to fit paid work around their children's education because Home Educators need not observe school hours.

  

This does not make sense and provoked a lot of comment from our members to the effect that parents might not be available to take employment because they are already fully committed to providing for the care and education of their child(ren) and this is their full time job. One member remarked, “If someone can demonstrate to me how having made a 24/7/52 commitment to your children makes you more available than someone who has delegated that responsibility for 7 hours, five days a week, 32 weeks a year, I'd be very impressed.” Indeed, Mr Timms’ comment illustrates his fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of home education and the mechanism which leads to home educated children consistently out-performing their schooled peers by a considerable margin across all socio-economic groups surveyed11.

 

The crucial factor that makes home education so successful is parental engagement with their children through what home educators call “purposive conversation”7 Desforges8 labels “Parental Involvement,” and Kathy Sylva et al refer to as “sustained shared thinking”12 (SST). Sustained shared thinking creates a home learning environment that promotes learning and which is so strongly beneficial to children's educational outcomes that it outweighs the effects of both socio-economic factors and levels of parental educational attainment.

 

It is generally accepted that the educational prospects of disadvantaged children are improved by attendance at good quality nursery or pre-school care. What is less well understood is that it is sustained shared thinking between children and staff and the extent to which staff help parents engage in SST at home that radically improves outcomes for these children. It follows, therefore, that home education requires the presence of at least one adult who is engaged full-time in this process and that to remove children from a beneficial home learning environment and place them into state schools or childcare is likely to have a detrimental effect upon outcomes for these children, because it will significantly adversely affect levels of parent-child interaction and sustained shared thinking as well as negatively impacting upon the extent to which parents own their roles as parents and educators and engage in those roles with confidence.

 

SST, parental engagement and confidence in their role as parents and educators drive home education outcomes, all of which strongly protect against socio-economic factors anyway. It seems perverse then, and quite possibly counter-productive, to include lone parent home educators in a policy intended to drive up outcomes by socio-economic means. 

 

AHEd are concerned about outcomes for the children in the Millar and Ridge study of 50 low income working families mentioned by Stephen Timms. (“A fine balance: managing work and family life.”) The Treasury document, “Choices for Parents” is unequivocal that “The needs of children and families cannot be traded against demands of the labour market but must be advanced together.” Yet in the Miller and Ridge study, children can be heard expressing very clearly that they would prefer their parent at home and would prefer her not to have to work outside the family home or would like her to work fewer hours or only school hours, and the needs of these children for enhanced contact with their main caregiver appear to be completely disregarded.

 

Similarly disregarded are the views of the parents in that they feel they have no choice but to work but would prefer to be more available for their children. Evidently children remain excluded from after school social activities because parents don't know about them, cannot get back from work in time or still cannot afford them. Children as young as 10 were said to be involved in a range of coping and protective strategies which included going to school when ill or attending childcare at which they were unhappy in order to avoid the parent having to take time off work; and acting as carers for younger siblings and even for their parent because they were worried about her tiredness and emotional well-being. This applied even where children were happiest about increased household income.

 

The department has been saying, and Mr. Timms repeated, that they support parents’ right to choose to home educate but do not provide finding to do so. AHEd does not contend that Government should fund home education. It is implausible to suggest that payment of a subsistence benefit to lone parents could be interpreted as funding for home education and members find the suggestion highly offensive stating that they take this benefit “on the basis of need, not desserts,” and because their parenting responsibilities mean that they are not available for employment. In fact, far from funding home education, thousands of pounds per year per child is saved to the treasury by parents who choose to educate their children outside the state school system; including lone parents on benefits who opt to home educate.

 

Parents have a duty under section 7 of the Education Act to provide a suitable, full-time, efficient education for their children. If the unique circumstances of a family mean that a parent is unavailable for work because she is already fully engaged discharging her legal duty to provide an education, then an exemption from the requirement to undertake paid work is at least as applicable in this situation as it is for foster parents and registered carers who receive exemption by reason of the fact that a requirement to seek paid work is incompatible with their other responsibilities. There would appear to be no suggestion that exempting carers and foster parents from the requirement to seek paid work and continuing to pay Income Support constitutes funding for foster or other care and no logical reason therefore why this reasoning should be advanced in the case of home educators.

 

Personal Advisors:

 

Of considerable concern to AHEd is that Personal Advisors (PAs) and not parents will have the ultimate say in whether available childcare is appropriate for a particular child. PAs are not necessarily experts in education, psychology or child development and they cannot possibly be expected to have an intimate knowledge of each childcare setting and the needs and background of each individual child in order to know whether the two are matched. We believe that, even before the regulations have been placed before Parliament, there is already widespread pressure on parents to rush to take work now. Alongside numerous reports of bad and wrong advice being given to lone parents, we have received a report in the last few days of a Derby parent being advised that she must simply accept whatever is available in childcare despite her concerns about whether it is appropriate because places will soon be taken and she will lose benefits.

 

In effect, these regulations remove lone parents' ability to raise their own children. Lone parents will be denied the right to take decisions about the type of childcare, if any, they select for their children and they are seriously at risk of extreme poverty if they choose not to comply with the requirement to be available for work in order to provide their children with an education otherwise than at school.

 

The overriding principle underpinning the Government's 10year strategy “Choice for Parents” is one of supporting parents in choices about how they balance work and family. By contrast, conditionality and a requirement to seek paid employment outside the home not only sends a strong message to parents that child rearing is not valued by society, it also overrides parental choice and autonomy.

 

Given that it is levels of parental engagement and involvement with their children that have the single largest impact upon good outcomes, over and above parental education and socio-economic status, and given that levels of parental engagement and involvement depend upon parental confidence and identification with their role as parents and educators12, it seems to AHEd that this is potentially a most damaging and detrimental policy.

 

We look forward to your reply.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

(Chair, AHEd.) For the committee and membership of AHEd

 

http://ahed.pbwiki.com/ Action for Home Education Group.

 

 

 

References:

 

1. Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2006) Firing on All Cylinders, pp29-32

 

2. Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2006) Firing on All Cylinders, p12

 

3. Gingerbread In Work Better Off: A response to the green paper, p4-5, section 2.6

 

4. HM Treasury (2004) Choices for Parents, the Best Start for Children, p14, section 2.44

 

5. House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee (2007), Full employment and world class skills, HC939 & Yeo Alisdair (2007) Experience of work and job retention among lone parents: an evidence review, DWP Working paper No 37 DWP

 

6. The minister (DWP, 2007) "We have been very clear that we are not proposing to force lone parents into work, nor cut lone parent benefits - this would be wrong in principle and damaging to the health and well-being of children. It is a matter of individual choice for each lone parent as to whether they look to move into work or continue to claim benefits" "I hope this reassures your constituent that our aim is to help those parents for whom work is a realistic option to take the necessary steps so that they can get back to work and lift their families out of poverty"

 

7. ''http://edheretics.gn.apc.org/EHT010.htm

 

8. Desforges, C (2003) The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievements and Adjustment: A Literature Review

 

9. Morris et al (2005) Effects of welfare employment policies on young children: New findings, Social Policy Report, 19: 3-22

 

10. Buck K (2007) Still home alone? Developing next generation care for older children.

 

11. Rothermel P (2002) Home-Education: Rationales, Practices and Outcomes & Hepburn C et al (2007) Home Schooling: From the extreme to the mainstream.

 

12. Kathy Sylva et al (2003) The Effective Provision of Pre-school (EPPE) Project: Findings from the Pre-school period. Summary of findings

 

13. Desforges, C (2003) The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievements and Adjustment: A Literature Review Especially 6.11.1 & 9.2.4 & 9.4

 

~~~~~

 

New Concerns

 

Lord Avebury's accompanying letter:

 

October 10, 2008

 

Dear Tony,

 

 

Congratulations on your appointment as DWP Minister, and being given responsibility for IS.

 

I had an exchange with Stephen Timms on the Lone Parents Order, copies attached, and would now draw your attention to his statement that the regulations are to be amended to allow PAs additional discretion to exempt a lone parent from seeking work on grounds of ill-health of parent or children etc, but not where the parent is genuinely involved in providing full-time education for the child or children.

 

I did look at the Millar and Ridge study cited by Stephen as proof of the assertion that children in lone parent families felt their lives were better when their parent went back to work, and was surprised that he would draw general conclusions from purely anecdotal evidence on a small number of families. I have spoken to Professor Millar and she tells me that not one of the lone parents in her study was engaged in full-time home education.

 

I attach a further letter from (AHEd) going into greater detail, and would be grateful if you would give further thought to adding to the list of discretionary exemptions, the provision by the parent of satisfactory full-time education, as assessed by an independent inspector.

 

I have spoken to the Clerk of the Merits Committee, which is going to look at the draft Order, and am sending copies of this letter to the Committee Chair, Geoff Filkin, and to the Clerk.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Eric.

 

~~~~~

 

Elements of this caused disappointment to AHEd members along with the last part of an otherwise excellent statement from ACERT, which we reproduce below, followed by the AHEd response to Lord Avebury.

 

~~~~~

 

ACERT

 

ACERT wishes to comment on the draft SI The Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008, and hopes the Government will amend it before asking for Parliament’s approval.

 

ACERT is as committed and concerned as the Government to see children lifted out of poverty and in general terms is supportive of the proposed reforms to the welfare payments for lone parents.

 

However, we consider that lone parents who have decided to home educate their children, including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families, will be structurally disadvantaged by these changes unless Elective Home Education (EHE) is included in the list of possible exemptions.

 

A parent who is home educating has a duty to ensure that her child receives a ‘full-time’ and suitable education and it is difficult, with the best will in the world, to see how a lone parent can achieve this if also burdened with a minimum requirement to work outside the home for 16 hours per week. The lone parent already has the physical and emotional stress of dealing with the daily tasks of caring for her children without the support of a partner. Requiring her to work as well as providing ‘full-time’ education is unreasonable, involving not only the ‘classroom’ activities, but a considerable amount of additional time preparing lessons, gathering educational materials and getting advice. Effectively, these proposals would cancel the rights of parents to home educate their children, and may lead to judicial review as being in breach of international law concerned with the rights of parents to educate their own children.

 

ACERT would therefore propose that EHE be listed as an additional exemption to the requirement that a lone parent present herself for employment under these regulations, subject to a more effective regime for monitoring and inspecting the quality of home education. The existing advice and legal framework is too weak to ensure that all children are receiving a full-time and suitable education, and if income support is to continue for lone parent home educators, is reasonable for the regulations and legal framework to be tightened up. ACERT would be very willing to give further advice on this issue.

 

~~~~~

Comment

 

AHEd appreciate the support of Lord Avebury and of ACERT but, unless we can persuade them that benefit should not be dependent on strict monitoring and further regulation of home educators it looks as though we have a fundamental difference.

 

This means that a number of groups are concerned about the regulations in general, and as they apply to home educating lone parents in particular, but that some will be asking for stricter monitoring and regulation of home educators and for making state benefits for these parents dependent on approval. While we appreciate support we cannot support this line and must stand by our own principles and arguments as set out below in the response to Lord Avebury.

 

~~~~~

 

AHEd Response to Lord Avebury:

 

Monday 13th October.

 
 
Dear Lord Avebury,
 
Thank you for your letter and the copy of the "supporting" letter from ACERT. AHEd members have been very pleased to have your assistance in this matter and your challenges to the Ministers, which had been very much appreciated. Sadly however, that feeling has fallen flat and our members are devastated at the latest unexpected turn in events.
 
Due to the urgency of this issue, AHEd has not had time to share with you the fundamental issues about the freedom to home educate our children. If we had, you would have understood that no home educators would wish to be blackmailed into trading state financial benefits for increased state monitoring.
 
In a telephone conversation, you suggested that the government might be prepared to allow an exemption for home educators if there was a strict monitoring system; my response was that home educators are already monitored. AHEd members are not prepared to discriminate against single-parent home educators, create a two-tier system of 'accountability' amongst home educators, or cause stress and damage to children's incentives to learn by altering the existing system to allow increased state oversight and control of the education we provide for our children. 

 

 

The current legal framework regarding those educating otherwise than at a school has a more than adequate due process. We do not accept that it is not adequate and believe that there is no proper evidence base for any assertion to the contrary. We cannot press for the introduction of the ultra vires monitoring of single parents on benefit as a bargaining chip for attaining exemption from inclusion in the Jobseekers scheme.
 
The tragic consequence of such monitoring would almost certainly be to force those lone parents "underground". They will feel forced to protect their human rights, freedom and dignity and, of course, those of their children and will simply not apply for ANY state benefit. This will inevitably have the complete opposite of the desired effect for home educators and for the stated government intention of lifting children out of poverty.
 
It is the legal duty of the parent, not the local authority, to ensure the suitable education of their child. Statute gives equal and unconditional weight to a parent's choice to educate using a school or "otherwise." Therefore, home educators expect that equality to be honoured and to be afforded the "presumption of innocence" that all other parents are afforded in this country.
 
The government is busy trying to prevent all manner of evils and making itself responsible for ensuring various outcomes for children. It overestimates its capability and discounts the cost of these ambitions, while laying Government open to legal action for failures. The failures of Government both as a state parent and educator are well documented.
 
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 lays a duty on parents, (not the state,) and section 437(1) defines what happens if parents do not fulfil that duty. This is the standard that should apply in every case. It would be discriminatory for DWP to apply any test additional to that laid down in primary education legislation. As most lone parent home educators are also women such an action could also lead to a class suit on the grounds of educational and sexual discrimination. 
 
AHEd believe that all children need their lone parent to be available if needed, at the discretion of the parent and regardless of educational setting. As a matter of principle therefore we do not condone the lone parent regulations for anyone. AHEd members urge you to withdraw your suggestion and push for, at minumum, an unconditional exemption for elective home educators. It would be preferable if you could suggest that all lone parents [of children of compulsory school age] on benefit should have the right to determine whether their home responsibilities make it possible to work for 16 or more hours work a week.
 
Thank you for your support since we got in touch with you about this issue. If you have any queries or comments we would be happy to hear from you or to explain our position further.
 
Yours sincerely, 
B.
 
 
(Chair, AHEd.) For the committee and membership of AHEd
http://www.ahed.org.uk/pc/ Post card campaign to support Lone Parents
http://ahed.pbwiki.com/ Action for Home Education Group.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~

Update October 23rd 2008

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF LORDS Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee 30th report

 

... which brings to the attention of the House the Draft Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008.

 

Here is a copy of the report that the Lords made today suggesting that there are policy issues that may make these Regulations unsatisfactory in their current state.

 

Please feel free to forward a copy to your MP asking her/him to support you in refusing to approve the Regulations.

 

 30th Report.pdf

 

 

You can contact your MP here

 

 

 

~~~~~

Reply from Lord Avebury 24/10/2008

 

AHEd received this e-mail from Lord Avebury:

 

"On Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 4:07 PM, eric avebury <ericavebury@gmail.com> wrote:

 

 

  I'm afraid you will find the attached reply from the Minister disappointing. The Merits Committee looked at the Order and their report was published yesterday, commenting as follows on the Order:

 

 

 

  Draft Social Security (Lone Parents and Miscellaneous Amendments)

  Regulations 2008

 

  Currently, a lone parent may be entitled to Income Support (IS) solely on

  the ground that they are responsible for a child aged under 16. These

  Regulations propose to lower the entitlement threshold immediately to

  include only lone parents whose youngest child is under 12 and then to

  phase in further extensions of the requirement so that, from 26 October

  2009, only those whose youngest child is under 10 will be eligible and

  from 25 October 2010 only those whose youngest child is under 7. Parents

  of children above the threshold age will instead be required to claim

  Jobseeker's Allowance which is conditional on a person being willing to

  take up work and actively seeking employment. The Government's policy

  intention is clearly stated and these Regulations seek to implement it.

  However, some clarification is required about the practicalities of how

  the system will operate and whether the proposed pace of implementation is

  feasible, particularly in how it relates to the roll-out of "wrap-around

  childcare". The proposals, particularly in relation to younger children,

  those with special needs and those being educated at home, are contentious

  and the House may be interested in finding out more about how official

  discretion will be applied and how the DWP proposals may be reconciled

  with the DCSF's policy objectives.

 

  This at least provides a peg to raise the matter when the Order comes

  before Parliament.

 

 

  Anne-Marie, could this be circulated, please, to the social security team?

 

  Regards,

 

 

  Eric

  --

  Eric Avebury"

 

 

The attached reply to which he refers is from Kitty Ussher, DWP Minister:

 

 

 Ussher_2008_10_24.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~~~~~

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