Lizzie Flew's blog
Politicians are always concerned about public opinion, and they often seek to shape it. But, despite their efforts, we know that public policy and public opinion do not always match, and two pieces of recent research illustrate this clearly. In July the latest British Social Attitudes Survey was published, and showed strongly that the public thinks the government should financially support those in low paid work.
In the ‘simple’ world of universal credit, monthly assessment periods are the supposedly ‘neat’ way of judging what financial support families should get based on their earnings and circumstances. For example, if someone starts earning more their universal credit is reduced.
It’s time to start listening: what the Department for Work and Pensions needs to learn about universal credit
In the Commons last week, Work and Pensions ministers responded to concerns about universal credit by offering to look at individual constituency cases MPs were raising, where things might not be going quite right. They gave the impression that anything not working was an anomaly – and that they’d listen and fix these cases. What we’re seeing through our Early Warning System, however, is that cases where things go wrong don’t tend to be anomalies – they're the tip of the iceberg.
Latest figures show that child poverty is rising. There are currently 4 million children living in poverty in the UK, and there are projected to be 5.1 million by 2021. While the government doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge this reality, most starkly illustrated by its refusal to discuss the impact of universal credit on child poverty, others are keen to find practical ways to address the problem.
Joyce Materego has been director of finance and resources at CPAG since January 2016. We were delighted when she was recently named an Inspiring Financial Leader at the Charity Finance Group awards. We asked Joyce about life before CPAG, what drew her to our work, and what challenges lie ahead.
Sue is part of Dole Animators – a group of people with experience of the social security system in the UK who work together to highlight the effects of welfare reform. Dole Animators have just produced a five point plan for a brighter future – their blueprint for addressing poverty and insecurity. Sue spoke at an event in Parliament last week about her experiences, and shares them here:
We were delighted to learn last week that Tom Royston, a barrister who specialises in social welfare law, won the prestigious Legal Aid Newcomer Award at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards. We put Tom forward for the award because of his tireless work with us on key cases. These include the Rutherford case last year, in which we challenged the ‘bedroom tax’ in the Supreme Court and won. The Court ruled that the Government had discriminated against Paul and Susan Rutherford and their severely disabled grandson Warren, who needs overnight care.
We entered this general election campaign with child poverty at 4 million, projected to rise to 5.1 million by the end of the next parliament (assuming it’s a five-year term). The next government must get to grips with the underlying causes of poverty to make sure all children have a great start in life – and the opportunity to thrive. We have set out the practical steps politicians can take after 8 June to tackle child poverty.
‘Fairness’ was the word Lord Freud used to justify the lowering of the benefit cap. But there is no fairness to be found in a policy that ignores assessed need, mostly affects people who can’t work to increase their income, and hits households with children in 93 per cent of cases.