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Sanctioning hunger

26 November 2014
If I need to take a day off work, I don’t usually lose one month’s salary as a result. However, if you’re claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) and delays to your bus journey mean you arrive ten minutes late for an interview at the Jobcentre, you could well find yourself having your benefit stopped for four weeks or more through a sanction.

Save our safety net

20 November 2014
Four children are left home alone for five days. Social services step in to move the kids out to live with their father. But there’s a problem: the council have found a flat for the newly formed family, but it is unfurnished.

The road to the food bank is paved by failures in the benefit system

19 November 2014
Food banks have become a political football. Some say demand is driven by supply: if you build it, they will come. Others point to the rising cost of living, especially food price inflation, or benefit cuts as the key drivers of demand (or need).

Fair for who? Child maintenance and family tests

18 August 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he wants to see all domestic government policies subjected to a ‘family test’ in future, apparently to ensure that families aren’t undermined or made worse off financially.  But does the ‘family test’ itself pass the test?

‘Having kids shouldn’t be a luxury’ - Mumsnet response to cost of a child research

14 August 2014
New research has revealed that families on minimum wage are 18% short of the amount needed for a basic standard of living. Here, MN blogger Catherine Mann argues that parenting must not become the preserve of the rich.

The dark side of localism: when boroughs want to keep "council tax tourists" out

14 August 2014
In the 1949 Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico, residents of the London borough set themselves up as a separate state with predictably comic results. When Pimlico’s governing committee lifts post-war rationing, shoppers flood to the new dominion only to find themselves trapped when its borders are later closed.

The minimum cost of raising a child to adulthood: £83,000

12 August 2014
Children cost. A lot. New research published today shows that raising a child from birth to 18 requires a minimum of £83,155 for a couple, and £96,905 for a lone parent family. (In case you are wondering, it costs a lone parent more than a couple to bring up a child because there is only one adult to make offsetting savings from their own living expenses).

Rights (and wrongs) of sanctions

24 July 2014
At Child Poverty Action Group, we’ve had longstanding concerns about the use of sanctions, which are basically cuts to benefit payments of up to 100% for up to 3 years, and the obvious knock-on impacts on child poverty.  And as the letter in today's Times that we and others have signed shows, we’re not alone in having profound concerns with how sanctions are working.

9 reasons to protect child benefit

17 July 2014
"I'm not going to flannel you, I'm going to give it to you straight. I like the child benefit, I wouldn't change child benefit, I wouldn't means-test it, I don't think that is a good idea." So said David Cameron in March 2010.

A new poll tax?

16 July 2014
If I lost my job tomorrow, one of the things that I would expect would be that while I was not earning, I would not be paying tax. However, in 26 out of 33 London boroughs this is not the case: I would still need to pay council tax.