A fairer share for all – ending poverty in the UK. Part Three

On Friday afternoon at our Federal conference, there was a consultation session on A Fairer Share for All – consultation paper. The consultation period continues until Sunday 31st March. I think members should email their comments rather than answer the questions the working group asks as I don’t think the questions cover all the areas that need commenting on.

The consultation paper doesn’t talk about levels of benefits (which I have done mainly in a-fairer-share-for-all-ending-poverty-in-the-UK-part-two-60199. The working group asks about reforming or scrapping Universal Credit. I think Universal Credit should be scrapped and replaced with a Working Credit for people of working age in work and all the old benefits kept. This new benefit should keep the 63% taper of Universal Credit but apply it to the new rates of benefit I set out in part two, where for every pound of net income a person loses 63 pence in benefit. However, the “work allowances” should be replaced with disregards and they should be the same for people no matter if they are receiving housing benefit. Instead of restoring the three ‘higher work allowance’ rates of £734, £536 and £647 a month I would replace both the higher and lower rates with £140 a week for claimants with children and those receiving Employment and Support Allowance.

Moreover, instead of the £110 a month for those without children, I would set it at £50 a week for each adult who is in work (therefore if both parents were in work they would have a weekly disregard of £190 [140+50] a week. I wonder if the taper on housing benefit which would be the last element to be reduced should be higher. A very complicated system would be to apply to say a 70% taper to the first £70 of housing benefit a week, 80% of the next £70 and 90% of the rest (over £140 a week). The new Working Credit could be calculated every two weeks or every month as chosen by the claimant.

The paper talks of childcare. I think a radical solution would be to pay out a new benefit called Childcare Benefit and it should be a means-tested benefit available to all parents which cover the cost of day childcare for working parents for children aged over nine months. Single parents and parents who are couples if in work and receiving the new Working Credit would earn enough money to pay for their childcare needs to enable them to work the hours they wish to work. Parents who don’t receive the new Working Credit (those earning above £48,000 pa) would get a proportion of their childcare costs on a sliding scale in relation to their net earnings, possibly applying the current maximum which I think is £1300 a month.

The paper states “there is also a case for moderating the sanctions regime”. No there isn’t we must keep our existing policy of abolishing the sanctions regime.

The paper asks should we reintroduce UK poverty targets. It seems that the target was for less than 10% of children to be living in relative poverty by 2020. Currently, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 15% live in poverty. I would like us to have a target of having less than 1% of children living in relative poverty ten years after entering government.

* Michael Berwick-Gooding is a Liberal Democrat member in Basingstoke and has held various party positions at local, regional and English Party level. He posts comments as Michael BG.

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  • David Raw,

    Thank you for your positive comments. I have not done any computer modelling, nor do I know how to go about doing it.

  • David Warren 20th Mar '19 - 9:19pm

    I have done a submission but have no way of knowing whether it has been received because I haven’t received an acknowledgement.

    I did the same for the group on Health and Social care. With that one I also messaged a couple of members of the group neither of whom have responded!

    Not a good advert for the process.

    On welfare policy I keep saying that we need to move beyond minimal changes like lifting caps etc to the underlying principle that benefits have to be enough to live on.

    Why are we afraid to embrace this idea?

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