Resolution Foundation, 2011
The Coalition's flagship benefits reforms will fail to make a return to work worthwhile for single parents and mothers on middle incomes. The new Universal Credit will provide help with childcare fees for parents working less than 16 hours per week. However, many low- and middle-income parents working longer hours are expected to receive less support than under the current system because overall state funding will not rise. Moreover, the expected changes to childcare funding would mean that a single mother on the minimum wage working more than 24 hours per week would keep only 6p in every pound she earned for every hour she worked above this level. This is because tax credits for childcare are reduced as tax and national insurance rise the more hours a parent works.
C. Hope and L. Peacock
Daily Telegraph, May 16th 2011, p. 1 + 5
Under government plans for the reform of parental leave, a new mother will automatically receive five months paid leave, and fathers will get an extra four weeks, taking their entitlement to six weeks in total. The couple will be allowed to divide another seven months, four months of which is paid, between them. Employers will not be able to refuse requests for time off.
(See also Daily Telegraph, May 17th 2011, p. 2)
The Guardian, May 9th 2011, p. 4
Staff working for jobcentres and other Department for Work and Pensions contractors have been issued guidelines on how to deal with suicide threats from claimants as the squeeze on benefits takes hold. Julie Tipping, an appeal officer at Disability Solutions, representing claimants who try to overturn decisions made following work capability tests, said that in the last year two of the claimants she represents had made real attempts at suicide after a decision was taken that they were fit for work.
Daily Telegraph, May 3rd 2011, p. 18
Tax experts have warned the Treasury Select Committee that moves to strip middle class families of tax credits and child benefit payments while freezing higher rate tax thresholds would have a disproportionate effect on those with an income of between £40,000 and £50,000 a year. Stay-at-home mothers who will lose child benefit because their partner is a higher rate taxpayer will be hit hardest. The experts conclude that there is a significant fairness issue over the increased tax burdens imposed.
Farnham: Ashgate, 2011
In 2008 the Social Fund had been in operation for twenty years. This has provided a timely opportunity to not only critically reflect upon its introduction in 1988 and its operation in the past two decades, but also to place it within its historical context. There is a particular need to engage with the argument that was made in the 1980s that relieving need by way of loan was new in social security policy. In this groundbreaking study, Chris Grover provides the reader with evidence that this is not the case by locating Social Fund loans in a lengthy history of debate about, and practice in, loaning poor relief and social security. Using primary data hitherto ignored by social policy research, Grover shows that there is a long history embedded in British systems of poor relief of authorities having the power to loan applicants cash that had to be repaid or to provide food and items, the value of which then had to be repaid. Understanding this history will give a greater depth to our understanding of the state's purposes in relieving the poorest people as well as to our knowledge of contemporary social security policy.