News in Brief
Welfare reform continued to dominate much of the political news during the first hald of last week as the government suffered a seventh defeat in the Lords (relating to charging separated parents to use the Child Support Agency) and the bill returned to the Commons (full text of the discussion in the House is available here), where the government chose to overturn the Lords on all 7 amendments claiming ‘financial privelege’, as Iain Duncan Smith had predicted.
In related news, Liam Byrne wrote an open letter to Nick Clegg, an e-book – ‘The dread of things to come’ was published by campaigners against the reforms, Nick Seddon accused wealthy families of ‘treating the welfare state like an ATM machine’, and Sonia Poulton wrote an incredibly powerful article in The Daily Mail which included a message from a disabled person that she had received:
“You want my Motability car? Have it. You want my DLA care component? Have it. You want my incapacity benefit? Have that too. But also have my Cerebral Palsy, my inability to vocalise my thoughts and feelings, my inability to hear yours. So, if in spite of all this you still want everything I have, then take it all and let me have your life and your freedom of choice.”
The Work Programme was the theme for an interesting post on the Social Market Foundation’s website, which suggested that new government figures “show a dramatic rise in the number of people it thinks will come onto the scheme compared to the estimates on which Work Programme contractors’ initial bids were based a year ago”
The IFS released their Green Budget this week which included some alternative proposals for removing child benefit from better-off families. It was also reported on the Working Mums website that the government may be about to introduce childcare vouchers for ‘mumpreneurs‘.
The Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, wrote a blog about the Council’s attempt to ‘set an example on pay’ which includes work on pay ratios and the Living Wage. Two North East newspapers also highlighted work taking palce in the region to tackle inequality: The Journal promoted the January Declaration again; and The Northen Echo launched a Foundation for Jobs with the support of the Bishop of Durham, who guest edited the paper for a day.
An opinion piece in The Independent suggested that the government, whilst holding a hard line on those at the bottom, was making concessions for those at the top, and that ‘fairness is a bogus agenda’
Neil O’Brien asked if the ‘squeezed middle’ really existed in The Telegraph
The BBC chose to illustrate the potential impact of the benefits cap on one family, which happened to be a family of eight where the father had been jobless ofr 10 years and where the weekly shopping bill of £240 was described as ‘ Includes food and household goods, 24 cans of lager, 200 cigarettes and a large pouch of tobacco’. You can imagine the comments beneath the article….
An interesting blog on the New Start website looking at the potential impact of Localism on poverty
Signpost(s) of the week
An interview with Tony Stoller, the new Chair of Joseph Rowntree Foundation
What have we learnt from a century of anti-poverty policies? The Smith Institute has tried to find out…
Graphic of the week
The IFS produced a graph which shows where the cuts to local government spending will hit, with London and the North East faring worst in terms of cash and percentage cuts.