Weekly Round up 09/03/2012

News in Brief

Welfare Reform

Wednesday saw the launch of a report to Save Child Benefit, organised by CPAG and the topic of child benefit occupied a lot of political comment this week. The Telegraph, The Spectator and The Guardian all offered views on the proposal to withdraw child benefit from higher rate taxpayers. You gov suggest that 68% of the population thought the new rules are unfair. Despite all of the column inches devoted to the subject, one of the most sensible and succinct offerings came online, via Paul Spicker’s Social Policy blog:

The main argument for cutting Child Benefit seems to be that it will help to cut the deficit. If the government wanted to increase the burden on richer families, it has the option of clawing back the benefit through the tax system. It would make more sense to tax all higher rate payers, rather than only those with children. If the government was serious about cutting the deficit, they would be raising tax. The fact they are not talking about raising tax is a strong indication that this is not really about balancing the books. They are focusing on public spending, which is quite a different issue.

Tax credits were also in the news this week with the announcement that some working families would be better off on benefits

The Welfare Reform Bill became law this week (not last week as I had reported here 7 days ago!!) and Iain Duncan Smith stated:

The Universal Credit will mean that work will pay for the first time, helping to lift people out of worklessness and the endless cycle of benefits. Whilst those people who need our help and support will know they will get it without question

The Sun has started a ‘Beat the Cheat’ campaign encouraging members of the public to telephone the benefit fraud hotline if they suspect someone of being a ‘fiddling scrounger’. An excellent post by Declan Gaffney on his L’Art Social blog and one on The Guardian Comment is Free site offered alternative views on the crack down on ‘benefit cheats’.

Child poverty stats

The Guardian and Experian released information ranking each local authority area in England against a  number of poverty indicators. Unfortuantely for the North East, each of the 2 Local Authorities in the region were placed in the top 70 (the top 20%) overall. Middlesbrough topped the list and South Tynseide also made it into the top ten. The Guardian also charted the decline of Middlesbrough using the tale of the Tuxedo Royale floating nightclub, pictured at the top of the post and well known to many in the region…

General comment

The Guardian reported on an IFS report that suggested that the poorest families were most affected by the austerity measures of the Coalition Government.

Alison Garnham, the Chief Executive of CPAG, gave an interview to Nursery World which can be found here

Signpost(s) of the week

A series of photographs in last weeks New Statesman depicting what life is like for a poor child in Britain today

The Feminisation of Poverty and the Myth of the Welfare Queen – an excellent article in the week of International Women’s Day.

Rafael Behr asked if Labour can start a different conversation about benefits

Graphic of the week

It has to be the interactive ‘poverty maps’ provided by The Guardian and Experian. Click on the maps below to take you to The Guardian website where you can see how your local area fared.

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