Wel­fare re­forms un­der ques­tion

The Church of England - - NEWS - By Amaris Cole

FUR­THER CON­CERNS have been raised over wel­fare re­forms this week, with one Chris­tian char­ity re­veal­ing stay-at-home par­ents do so out of ne­ces­sity and will suf­fer from the loss of child ben­e­fit.

Chris­tian Ac­tion Re­search and Ed­u­ca­tion said their find­ings il­lus­trate one-earner fam­i­lies are not so out of choice, and ben­e­fit changes bring ‘sub­stan­tial con­cerns’, putting the Government un­der ‘even more pres­sure’.

The CARE sur­vey shows 61 per cent of all one-earner fam­i­lies have sig­nif­i­cant car­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, with 1.2 mil­lion of th­ese, over half, hav­ing chil­dren.

Of th­ese house­holds, 58 per cent have a youngest child un­der five.

With the De­part­ment of Work and Pen­sions’ Fam­ily Re­sources Sur­vey il­lus­trat­ing the av­er­age in­come of one-earner fam­i­lies was just £28,000 per an­num, only marginally above the av­er­age wage, CARE says this re­veals ev­i­dence of in­ac­cu­racy of pop­u­lar as­sump­tions that one-earner house­holds have the lux­ury to choose to be so.

CARE re­leased this data fol­low­ing the re­cent changes to child ben­e­fit, whereby one-earner house­holds will be­gin to lose their child ben­e­fit if earn­ings ex­ceed £50,000 per year and will lose it com­pletely when earn­ings reach £60,000 per year.

Mean­while, two-earner house­holds where both part­ners earn £49,000 will keep all of their child ben­e­fit.

Di­rec­tor of Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs for CARE, Dr Dan Boucher, said: “It is clear that the ma­jor­ity of one-earner fam­i­lies do not have the op­tion of the stay-at-home par­ent find­ing paid em­ploy­ment.”

Dr Boucher con­tin­ued: “For sin­gle-earner house­holds en­joy­ing just over the av­er­age wage it is vi­tal that the Government hon­ours its com­mit­ment to sup­port them through trans­fer­able al­lowances, as promised in the Coali­tion Agree­ment.”

He added: “20 March is the last op­por­tu­nity to do so in or­der to have trans­fer­able al­lowances up and run­ning by the next Gen­eral Elec­tion.

“In light of the child ben­e­fit changes it is par­tic­u­larly un­for­tu­nate that one-earner house­holds of be­tween £50,000 and £60,000 are be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against, whilst the Government treats dual-earner house­holds more favourably.”

The Bishop of Carlisle has also spo­ken out on wel­fare re­forms this week.

The Rt Rev James New­combe said: “The so­cial care sys­tem is fail­ing to meet the needs of dis­abled peo­ple of a work­ing age.”

The Bishop was speak­ing in sup­port of the report The Other Care Cri­sis, which was pub­lished by Scope, Men­cap, The Na­tional Autis­tic So­ci­ety, Sense and Leonard Cheshire Dis­abil­ity, to ad­dress the chal­lenges to dis­abled peo­ple un­der 65.

Bishop James con­tin­ued: “To date much of the de­bate on so­cial care has cen­tred on older peo­ple and the needs of an age­ing pop­u­la­tion.

“But one-third of those who need care and sup­port are un­der the age of 65, and the report shows how their lives have been af­fected by the care cri­sis.

“With­out sup­port, dis­abled peo­ple find them­selves un­able to wash, dress, leave their house or com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers.

“This can leave them un­able to work, study and con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety. Any so­lu­tion to the cur­rent cri­sis must ad­dress their needs as well.”

Mean­while, a pro­fes­sional dis­abled com­mu­nity made up of cam­paign­ers, aca­demics and re­searchers have also cau­tioned the government over th­ese amend­ments.

The char­ity claims hun­dreds of thou­sands of vul­ner­a­ble and sick peo­ple will be found fit for work and lose vi­tal fi­nan­cial sup­port.

The changes for claimants will have a ‘huge im­pact’.

Sam Bar­nett-Cor­mack, co-au­thor of the brief­ing, ex­plained: “The government’s pro­pos­als, which have not been dis­cussed by Par­lia­ment, will re­duce en­ti­tle­ment to Em­ploy­ment and Sup­port Al­lowance (ESA), mean­ing that Work Ca­pa­bil­ity As­sess­ments will find even more gen­uinely sick and dis­abled peo­ple fit for work.

“Th­ese tests are al­ready deeply flawed. Mak­ing a se­ries of as­sump­tions with­out fully un­der­stand­ing a per­son’s con­di­tion, fail­ing to take into ac­count all im­pair­ments and putting a spu­ri­ous di­vi­sion be­tween phys­i­cal and men­tal health is go­ing to have a huge im­pact for the per­son in­volved.”

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