Welfare reforms under question
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.”