About Govt Newspeak

I am a carer of two-disabled relatives and we have been through hell with the DWP.

All articles not written by me are fully sourced and I never claim authorship and all images are either from the article/twitter/photo share sites. I’m not paid for this blog nor do I EVER ask for any money.

Articles with comments in bold-red type are written by me and not part of the sourced article.

If by any chance I should add any unsourced articles [by mistake] or copyrighted images please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will immediately delete them.

The [main] purpose of this blog is to share my experiences of dealing with the DWP and if I can help with any advice, I will do my best.

Who can afford to eat out?

Govt Newspeak

‘It’s an insult’ – Woman on Universal Credit slams major Eat Out to Help Out omission. EXCLUSIVE: A woman, who survives on just £370 a month on Universal Credit, said the scheme is supporting Britain’s multi-billion-pound corporations instead of the business who are at real risk of collapsing.

The Chancellor has been accused of turning a blind eye to the small businesses who are at risk of collapsing in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, despite a new Eat Out to Help Out scheme to give tens of thousands of pubs, cafés and restaurants a cash boost.

The scheme, which offers diners half price meals in August has been described as an “insult” that ignores the people that are really suffering as a result of the pandemic.

Sam Hartley, a Universal Credit claimant who lives in London, said that while the incentive makes sense on paper, a major flaw in…

View original post 572 more words

DWP urged to come clean on how many will lose out under universal credit

ucThe Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is refusing to release figures showing how many disabled people will lose out when universal credit (UC) is fully implemented, even though ministers have repeatedly stated how many will gain from the new system. – John Pring

DWP’s failure to release the figures is now being examined by the statistics regulator, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), after its attention was drawn to the DWP refusal by Disability News Service (DNS).

OSR is already assessing the quality of some of the other benefits statistics produced by DWP*.

DNS has been trying for more than nine months to persuade DWP to release figures that would show how many disabled people are expected to lose out in the move to the new, delayed and much-criticised universal credit system.

continue reading at source

Disabled woman wins year-long battle with DWP

A disabled woman of colour had her disability benefits removed for failing to attend a face-to-face assessment, even though she had repeatedly explained that she was not well enough to attend because she was being treated for cancer.  By John Pring
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Rita* has now been awarded nearly £11,500 in backdated benefits after a year-long struggle with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the private assessment company Capita.

Her case will give hope to other disabled people who have had their entitlement to benefits stripped away because they were unable to attend face-to-face assessments.

Disability News Service (DNS) has been unable to confirm the details of the case with DWP, because Rita did not want to share her personal details.

But DNS has seen a redacted copy of correspondence from DWP, which confirms the award of the backdated PIP payments, and has been briefed by the user-led grassroots organisation WinVisible**, which has years of experience in supporting disabled benefit claimants.

continue reading at the source

 

Social workers feel powerless to help poverty-stricken families

Social workers feel ‘powerless’ in face of poverty afflicting most families involved with services.
Survey of practitioners on eve of coronavirus lockdown warns ‘immense’ stress on households is making meaningful social work more difficult

Image of empty wallet signifying poverty(Credit: vegefox / Adobe Stock)Increasing poverty is making it much harder for social workers to support families to make meaningful changes in their lives, a report has warned.

A survey of 129 practitioners – 117 of them social workers – between January and March 2020 found the “vast majority” of families receiving services were poor, with 94% saying the prevalence of this had increased.

Social workers who completed the survey, conducted by the Child Poverty Action Group, Association of Directors of Children’s Services and Child Welfare Inequalities Project, reported a range of factors that made working effectively with families under severe financial strain more difficult.

These included practical challenges, such as families being unable to afford travel to appointments, or being unable to attend them because of the irregular work patterns that are a feature of insecure employment.

Practitioners also reported emotional barriers, arising from the stress experienced by parents facing financial strain trying to meet their children’s needs with insufficient financial resources.

Poverty trends

In its 2020 report on living standard, poverty and inequality in the UK, think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that:

  • Relative child poverty after housing costs are taken into account had risen from 27% to 30% from 2011-12 to 2018-19.
  • Real incomes were stagnant for low-income households from 2013-14 to 2018-19 entirely as a result of falls in working-age benefits.
  • Workers whose livelihoods look most at risk during the Covid-19 crisis, such as those in hospitality and jobs such as cleaning or hairdressing, already tended to have relatively low incomes, and were relatively likely to be in poverty, prior to the onset of the crisis.

“It is hard to work with a family and support them to make meaningful and lasting change when their economic situation is going to remain the same,” one respondent said.

“Sometimes we are able to pay off some debt or apply to a charity which will do this,” they added. “However, the stress that some of our families are under is immense.”

Another social worker said they felt “powerless” in the face of structural issues around money, employment and housing.

‘Parents focused on survival’

Almost three-quarters of respondents reported that more than 50% of their caseload featured families struggling with debt and poor housing, with 41% saying that this was the case across more than 75% of their workload.

“Parents are so focused on survival that doing work to address deeper-rooted issues is so hard,” a third respondent said.

A guide issued in 2019 by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) urged social workers to bring a greater focus onto families’ socio-economic rights, arguing that poverty was too rarely taken into account in assessments or during interventions.

One social worker who responded to the recent survey drew attention to a local poverty strategy as having made a positive impact on work they were undertaking.

“We are fortunate as an authority that we do not ignore poverty as a significant issue for families and therefore tackling it is part of our children and young people plan and we have a tackling poverty strategy for the city,” they said. “We also have an active group of social workers and managers across the city working together to better understand the best resources we can access and how to ensure we support families and not blame families.”

Asked about the reasons families were facing increased hardship, 78% of respondents said that more than half of the children and families they work with had been hit by benefit changes, including the introduction of universal credit (UC), sanctions, the benefit cap, the two-child limit and the bedroom tax. Of this number, 41% reported more than three-quarters of children and families were affected.

Social workers also cited cuts to other services – especially child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) – as having had a negative impact on their work with children and families.

Echoing the findings of many previous studies, a number of respondents noted that a lack of support and preventive services inevitably resulted in situations escalating before families accessed support.

‘Cold homes, overcrowding, hunger and stress’

Responding to the survey findings, Jenny Coles, the ADCS president, said: “One in three children in England are living in poverty today – their experiences can often be overlooked and their voices go unheard.”

Coles said ADCS had supported the exercise as a means of raising awareness of the pervasive impact of poverty, which damages childhoods and life chances.

“It means cold homes, overcrowding, hunger and stress, which can lead to family breakdown,” Coles said. “It means charities stepping in to fill the gaps left by the state and schools feeding pupils and their families over the summer.

“This is simply unacceptable,” she added. “We hope the findings of this survey will serve to strengthen our collective calls for action on child poverty by policy makers, sooner rather than later.”

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Quadruple amputee’s shock at three-month disability payment wait

 

Caroline CosterCaroline Coster almost died while in a medically induced coma being treated for sepsis

A woman who had a quadruple amputation has said “it makes no sense” she will have to wait three months before being paid disability allowance. Caroline Coster, 58, caught coronavirus in March but had her hands and feet amputated after getting sepsis.

She questioned whether the wait to get her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was “just in case they grow back”.

A government spokesman said PIP claims could be made as soon as someone’s “needs arise or change”.

After recovering from Covid-19, Mrs Coster, from Bedford, developed sepsis, an extreme reaction to infection that causes vital organs to shut down. She almost died twice while in a medically induced coma at Bedford Hospital.

The mother-of-two recovered but her hands and feet had been deprived of blood and had to be amputated.

Mrs Coster has since been undergoing rehabilitation while applying for PIP, a benefit to help people with long-term disabilities meet extra costs.

Caroline CosterCaroline Coster had to have her hands and legs amputated

She became concerned when she read on the Department of Works & Pensions (DWP) website that to “get PIP” people must have “a health condition or disability where you have had difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) for three months”. “It makes no sense to me at all,” she said. “It is pretty obvious I’m going to need some help.”

Mrs Coster said she was worried the delay would mean she could not process applications for adjustments to her home. She said she feared being “tied to a manual wheelchair” while waiting for essential modifications such as a stairlift and a ramp to allow her to go in and out of the house.

“Until we have a ramp, I can’t even take the dog out for a walk,” she said. Work on the bathroom will also be needed for Mrs Coster to carry out basic tasks such as showering, using the toilet and having a wash.

“My husband would have to be my carer,” she said. “I don’t want that. I want to be independent.” Mrs Coster said she also had “a recurring nightmare they will say I am fit to work”.

The DWP said: “Anyone can make a claim to PIP as soon as their needs arise or change, with successful claims being back paid.” It said while people could claim immediately, claimants would need to meet the three-month minimum period before being eligible to be paid.

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Parents, carers and disabled people twice as likely to face redundancy

A charity has warned that parents, carers and disabled people twice as likely to face redundancy during pandemic. Certain groups being ‘pushed to the front of the queue’ when it comes to redundancy, Citizens’ Advice warns

Demand for advice on redundancy from Citizens’ Advice has increased almost seven-fold since February, the charity says

Parents, carers and disabled people are at least twice as likely to face redundancy during the pandemic as the rest of the working population, according to new research.

A report by Citizens’ Advice indicates that two in five people with caring responsibilities, either for children or vulnerable adults, are currently facing redundancy, meaning they have either been made redundant or are about to be, or they have had informal discussions with their employer about redundancy.

The same applies to more than one in four disabled people — rising to 37 per cent of those who said their disability has a large impact on their day-to-day life — according to the research. This compares to one in six of the working age population.

The new figures, based on a survey of more than 6,000 adults, come as demand for advice on redundancy from Citizens’ Advice has increased almost seven-fold since February, with frontline staff providing support to 2,508 people with such issues in July, compared to 368 in February.

In one case, Natalie, a retail worker, had previously always been able to work shifts around her childcare, but she was told she would be made redundant after returning from furlough because she wasn’t able to work more flexible hours.

The mother-of-one has applied for universal credit, but fears it won’t cover her essentials bills. “I’ve been so worried that I could lose my house as I don’t know how long it will be until I find another job. I’ve always worked and never been unemployed. This is quite a scary scenario,” she said. “I’ve had to call my family and my ex-partner to see if they can help pay my mortgage, as the thought of losing my home scares me. It would destroy me”.

Jamie McGlynn, contact centre manager at Citizens Advice Manchester, said people the charity was supporting were “absolutely wracked with worry” over redundancies.
“We’re seeing a lot of redundancy issues, but it gives you a sinking feeling when someone who’s been shielding, is a carer or has young kids tells you they’ve been picked as the first to go,” he said. “We’re retraining some of our advisers on employment rights because we know what we’re seeing now could be just the tip of the iceberg.”

Citizens’ Advice said that while all workers were protected by law against discrimination, workers currently have no guarantee these laws will be enforced, and will often be unable to call for their situation to be investigated if they have been unfairly sacked or treated. While they could take their issue to an employment tribunal, there was a backlog of 400,000 cases going into this crisis.

The charity is calling for a single watchdog to enforce employees’ rights — something the government committed to establishing in the 2019 Queen’s Speech. In the meantime, it is urging that emergency funding be given to the existing enforcement bodies.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Employers face difficult choices, but there are worrying signs disabled workers, people who shielded, parents and carers are being pushed to the front of the queue when it comes to redundancy.

“As tough as these times are, they cannot be used as an excuse to break the rules. If someone is facing an unfair redundancy, the odds of getting redress under the current system are stacked against them. Workers need a watchdog that will be a one-stop shop to protect their employment rights.”

James Taylor, executive director of strategy, impact and social change at disability equality charity Scope, warned that without “urgent” action, the UK “could be hurtling towards a state of emergency for disability employment”.

He added: “Disabled people have been hit hardest by this pandemic in many ways, and yet have been routinely forgotten by government […] The government must protect disabled people’s rights, so that disabled people are no longer bearing the brunt of this crisis.”

A Business, Energy, Industrial Strategy spokesperson said: “Redundancies which are based on unlawful discrimination are completely unacceptable. Legislation is in place to ensure processes are fair and reasonable, as well as being informed by appropriate equalities considerations.

“We urge employers to avoid cutting jobs where they can during this difficult period and to continue to access the Job Retention Scheme where possible. Employees who believe their redundancy was unfair may be able to complain to an employment tribunal.”

Who can afford to eat out?

‘It’s an insult’ – Woman on Universal Credit slams major Eat Out to Help Out omission. EXCLUSIVE: A woman, who survives on just £370 a month on Universal Credit, said the scheme is supporting Britain’s multi-billion-pound corporations instead of the business who are at real risk of collapsing.

The Chancellor has been accused of turning a blind eye to the small businesses who are at risk of collapsing in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, despite a new Eat Out to Help Out scheme to give tens of thousands of pubs, cafés and restaurants a cash boost.

The scheme, which offers diners half price meals in August has been described as an “insult” that ignores the people that are really suffering as a result of the pandemic.

Sam Hartley, a Universal Credit claimant who lives in London, said that while the incentive makes sense on paper, a major flaw in the system means it may not support those who have been forced into poverty.

“It’s a wonderful idea, but there’s one big problem,” she told Mirror Money. “The scheme is not available on takeaways, and most of the small hospitality businesses that are suffering right now are takeaway restaurants that are losing all of their customers to the big corporations. It’s a fight for their survival and they may not survive.”

Sam, 55, said she lives in part of East London where local, family businesses are the heart of the community. But many of these outlets are too small to have seating areas.

“It feels like Eat Out to Help Out hasn’t been done properly,” she said. “I have nothing against McDonald’s or KFC, I cannot afford to go there but I have nothing against them.

“But right now takeaway restaurants are losing customers by the hour because people are avoiding them to eat out at all of the big chains. This scheme was supposed to support them – not exclude them.”

She said that while many are offering a VAT cut, they simply cannot compete against the bigger restaurants that are able to combine the discounts. “I accept that many McDonald’s branches are run by franchisees, but even here in East London, McDonald’s doesn’t struggle for customers.

“The reality is that the public’s money needs to go where it’s needed the most. If these companies are not allowed to take part in the scheme, how can they get a boost? They won’t survive. If we all spent £10 at our local takeaway restaurant, and the Government doubled it, that could save almost all of them,” she added.

Sam, who lives on £370 a month on Universal Credit, said the Chancellor has also ignored the wider poverty problem. “He’s encouraging everyone to eat out – but people don’t have the money for this. Hundreds of thousands of workers have just been made redundant and there are more to come. Three million more people have just been pushed onto Universal Credit. Poverty is just going to spiral.”

One solution, she says, is for the Government to give all Universal Credit claimants an extra £10 a month to spend on a local takeaway restaurant. “This would give us the chance to support the businesses that need our help the most,” she said.

“If I could afford £10 and the Government was prepared to match that at local takeaways, then they’d get a £20 boost. “This would provide a lot more value to society than £20 at a fast-food chain that’s always going to have customers no matter what the economic situation.

“Where I live it’s the kebab shops, the Chinese takeaways and the Indian restaurants that need support. Their margins are just miniscule. “If Sunak had given 50 families on benefits £10 to spend at takeaways, we could have all gone out and had a treat for once and boosted the local economy and supported small business in the process.

“£20 will get you three mains and a starter. For me that is four or five meals. That would be helping my local neighbourhood and it would be helping the businesses and the people who run them in my community.

“It would help the forgotten people who have had nothing since March. “If 50 people spent £10 through Eat Out to Help Out at their local takeaway house, that would be an extra £1,000 to them.

“That’s the difference between surviving and collapsing.”

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Poverty is the most significant obstacle to happiness and well-being for children

Poverty is the most significant obstacle to happiness and well-being for children in England, report finds

poverty
The majority of children in England are very happy with their lives, but a significant number are living in poverty and deeply unhappy, a major survey reveals.

Led by the University of York and the Children’s Society, and supported by the Jacobs Foundation, the study surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 700 children in England aged between 10 and 11.

The findings suggest that while the majority of children in England are relatively satisfied with their lives (54% reported often feeling extremely happy), children living in poverty score their well-being 10% lower on average than their more affluent peers.

While only a small proportion of children (4%) reported being extremely unhappy, this still amounts to a relatively high number of children, the authors of the study warn.

Poverty

Co-lead author of the study, Gwyther Rees from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York, said: “Child poverty in England and the rest of the UK is rising rapidly, with more than four million children living in poverty today. Our report highlights the deep and far reaching impact of poverty on children’s lives and experiences. The work we have done during the last decade with The Children’s Society has focused on measuring poverty at the child level through experience of deprivations rather than the more traditional approach based on household income.

We have found that this is a more powerful tool to understand the impact of poverty on child well-being. It seems with the COVID crisis that the issue of children lacking access to things such as computers,  and home learning materials has come to the fore. It is likely to exacerbate educational inequalities. While only a small proportion of children are relatively unhappy, this still amounts to a substantial number of individuals. We know from other research we have conducted with children in England that low well-being is not just a temporary state and that many of these children will be unhappy with their lives for extended periods of time.”

Co-lead author of the study, Professor Jonathan Bradshaw from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York, added: “The results of our study add to a growing body of evidence which demonstrates the urgent need to tackle . With no measures to help families with children in the Government’s COVID support package, we fear that children are going to be the main victims of the crisis in the months and years to come.”

Benefits

Sam Royston, Director of Policy and Research at The Children’s Society, said: “Every day, we work with children who live in poverty and are exposed to risks that can harm their well-being, including debt, poor housing, and missing out on essentials like regular meals and new clothes.

Millions of children across the country already live in , and without considerable further action from the Government, many more could face extreme hardship as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. To protect children in the coming years, we want to see a £10 a week increase in children’s benefits, better access to emergency , an end to the benefit cap and two-child limit, and for advance payments under Universal Credit to be offered as grants not loans to mitigate the impact of the five-week wait. We also want to see the No Recourse to Public Funds condition suspended for those families unable to access the mainstream benefits system because of their immigration status.”

The survey was part of an international study which asked 128,000 children in 35 countries worldwide about their lives. The work aims to understand and promote children’s own views and experiences of their lives and well-being; and to encourage policymakers, and all those concerned with children’s well-being, to take account of these views and act to improve children’s experiences of childhood.

Professor Bradshaw added: “Information inequality could potentially constitute a new form of disadvantage experienced by  in lower-income countries. This concern is especially relevant in the current context of restricted access to school and learning opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Senior Tory slams DWP chiefs for having ‘no idea’ what life’s like on the breadline

Come on it’s got to be bad when a Tory is slamming the Tories and he isn’t the only one, John Major has had quite a few things to say about them too.

Sir John Major attacks Britain’s ‘shocking’ poverty levels


EXCLUSIVE: Lord Forsyth, a former employment minister, branded ministers ‘not particularly honest’ in their defence of Universal Credit – which is slammed today in a damning House of Lords report.

 UNIVERSAL CREDIT; HARMING A RANGE OF CLAIMANT GROUPS,  INCLUDING WOMEN,  DISABLED PEOPLE  AND THE VULNERABLE. | image tagged in poverty | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

Tory welfare chiefs have “no idea” what life is like on the breadline, a Conservative peer has declared in a devastating attack on failings in Universal Credit.

Lord Forsyth, a former employment minister under John Major, told the Mirror ministers were “not particularly honest” in their defences of the five-week wait for payment. And he said the six-in-one benefit has caused “real and substantial hardship” – with austerity cuts prompting “stress and difficulty”.

The peer’s scathing comments came as the influential Lords Economic Affairs Committee, which Lord Forsyth chairs, released a report saying Universal Credit “isn’t working”. YOU THINK!!!!

The cross-party group demanded major reforms to the benefit, including ending the five-week wait for payment which “entrenches debt, increases extreme poverty and harms vulnerable groups disproportionately” by plugging the gap with a two-week grant.

Peers also demanded “less emphasis” on sanctions and for £6bn of historic Tax Credit debt – which is still being clawed back from up to 30% of families’ benefits – to be written off. Peers also said a £20-a-week temporary rise for coronavirus, which ends in April 2021, should be made permanent. And they said the current monthly payment, which can fluctuate wildly, should be fixed at one level for three months at a time.

DWP told to make 14 big Universal Credit changes – here’s what it means for you

Speaking to the Mirror ahead of the report’s release, Lord Forsyth said: “This notion that you mimic the world of work by having monthly assessments and the five-week wait…“It just feels that that was designed by people who had no idea what life is like for people who are living on the breadline, and who have got no savings.”

He added: “The fundamental problem is the amount which is made available to people is not enough for them to live on. “Over a period of years following the 2008 financial crisis, there have been reductions and that has added to the stress and the difficulty.”

DWP ministers – including Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey – claim “no one has to wait five weeks for their first payment” because people can get an advance against their own benefits.

48375220392_8a676e16ba_b_Therese-Coffey

“But Lord Forsyth said: “It’s not particularly honest to say people don’t have to wait five weeks – when the answer is they’re taking out a loan which has to be repaid.”

The peer said the system had been designed around an “idealised claimant” and people whose lives are more complicated are “falling through the cracks”. He added: “I don’t think it’s for officials in the department. This is for ministers.

“The government was elected on a promise to ‘level up’. The Prime Minister has said he wants to govern as one nation. “I can’t believe that many people in politics who don’t believe there should be a safety net below which no one will fall, and a ladder to get them out of the net.

“What our report shows is there’s a very big hole in the net and the people falling through the net are some of the most vulnerable in our country. This is just something that needs to be fixed.”

Today’s report is scathing about the five-week wait for payment. Ministers recently announced two weeks of “run-on” payments, worth £149 on average, will go to every current benefit claimant who moves to Universal Credit. But new claimants of Universal Credit – including 3million who applied during the pandemic – cannot get that two-week grant.

Peers heard evidence that the wait is driving people to food banks. Disability Rights UK told the committee 30% of disabled claimants could not eat regular meals during the five-week wait, 30% could not heat their homes, and 40% went into significant rent arrears. Today’s report concludes: “The wait entrenches debt, increases extreme poverty and harms vulnerable groups disproportionately.

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has introduced some measures to mitigate the most harmful effects but these fall far short of what is needed.”

The report also says the monthly assessment period for UC, which can cause payments to fluctuate, “is impractical, fundamentally unfair and must be resolved. “

“If claimants experience significant falls in income or experience disadvantageous changes in circumstances during this time, then a mechanism should be introduced to enable them to have an early reassessment,” the report says.

Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince said he would consider the report in detail but added: “The case for Universal Credit has never been stronger.

“The system defied its critics in unprecedented and unforeseeable circumstances, processing more than 3.2m new claims at pace since mid-March and paying more than a million advances worth hundreds of millions of pounds to those in urgent need within days.

“We remain committed to supporting the most vulnerable in society, which is why we currently spend over £95 billion a year on the benefits system.”

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The Prime Minister should apologise for misleading child poverty statistics

The Prime Minister should apologise for misleading child poverty statistics and take urgent action to support worried families

The Prime Minister should apologise for misleading child poverty statistics and take urgent action to support worried families

Labour has called for urgent steps that would relieve pressure on family incomes, writes Kate Green MP.

The Prime Minister’s fiddling with child poverty figures isn’t just disingenuous and dishonourable, it’s an excuse. Child poverty in recent years is a direct result of the policy choices made by Conservative-led governments.

The publication by End Child Poverty of correspondence from the Office for Statistics Regulation, which lays bare the way in which Boris Johnson misused child poverty statistics in his response to Keir Starmer in Parliament last month, ought to be a shaming moment for the Prime Minister. Sadly, it comes as no surprise – we already knew that his use of the figures was dodgy.

In his question to the Prime Minister, highlighting that 600,000 more children had fallen into relative income poverty since 2012, Keir was after all simply quoting the Government’s own Social Mobility Commission. But we can understand why the Prime Minister didn’t want to acknowledge the statistics.

The Prime Minister can’t change the fact that more children are in poverty than when Labour left office.

As the Commission noted in its ‘Monitoring Social Mobility’ report published on 10 June, ‘there is now mounting evidence that welfare changes over the past ten years have put many more children into poverty’.

The Prime Minister’s selective use of different years and different measures of poverty to disguise the truth can’t change the fact that more children are in poverty than when Labour left office.

And, as with the rise in poverty under the Tories, the fall in poverty under Labour didn’t happen by chance – it too was the result of deliberate, and highly effective, policy choices.

The national minimum wage, tax credits and benefits for children, the rollout of the national childcare strategy, and a host of other policies designed to support families and promote child wellbeing, made a real difference to the lives of all children, and especially the most disadvantaged.

One of the most troubling aspects of child poverty today is the extent to which it happens in families where parents are working. Everyone agrees work ought to be a route out of poverty. But, too often, it isn’t.

Our insecure, poorly paid labour market doesn’t lift families out of poverty. Now, with the looming threat of rising unemployment as furlough support reduces next month, then comes to an end altogether in October, the situation threatens to become desperate.

The chancellor needs to do much more to support low income families with children through this crisis. I recognise the measures that have been taken, but they simply don’t go far enough.

Labour has called for urgent steps that would relieve pressure on family incomes.

We want to see the so-called two child policy and benefit cap, that restrict the amount of financial support a family receives irrespective of what they actually need to provide for their children, to be lifted.

We’ve called for the 5-week wait for universal credit payments to be abolished (yes, I know advances are available, but who wants to go into more debt at a time of such uncertainty?).

We’ve suggested – till we’re blue in the face – that a sectoral approach is needed to removing the furlough arrangements to support workers in the hardest hit sectors (which, by the way, are often sectors in which mothers are more likely to work, such as hospitality and retail, because they offer the flexible working needed to combine work with caring for their children).

The chancellor made no mention of childcare in his spending statement the other day – if the prime minister wants parents back at work next week, this was an astonishing omission.

The sector is in deep difficulty, with one in four providers saying they face going out of business within a year; that would lead to the loss of around 20,000 more providers, so targeted support for the sector is urgently needed.

The Prime Minister’s fiddling with the child poverty figures isn’t just disingenuous and dishonourable, it is an excuse for not taking the vital actions needed.

I certainly hope Mr Johnson will apologise to parliament for his misleading use of the statistics.

But even more importantly, I hope he’ll listen to Labour and take the actions that are essential now to support desperately worried families.


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