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

In part one I set out some of the things missing from our consultation paper https://www.libdems.org.uk/sconf19-consultation-paper-137. In this part, I will set out what we could do mostly for children and adults to remove them from poverty.

Returning to Local Housing Allowance, when introduced the rate was supposed to be the 30th percentile of the local market rates for private rented accommodation. This means that only the 30% cheapest properties in the area are affordable to those claiming housing benefit. Therefore only increasing LHAs in line with local rents does not restore it to the 30th percentile. Restoring it to the 30th percentile is a start, but I think the rates should be increased to the 50th percentile so all properties below the average would be available for people to live in when they receive housing benefit without forcing them into poverty.

Another problem with LHA is the rule which states that single people under 35 are expected to live in shared accommodation as a first step we should reduce this age down to 25.

Our current policy is to reverse the two-child policy and restore the first child rate to £277.08 a month (£63.94 per week) for all children no matter when they were born. However, I think the child rate under Jobseekers Allowance is £66.90 a week (£289.90 a month). Therefore our second step should be to increase the child rate for all benefits to this.

From the figures above we can calculate how much benefit a person should receive for each child:

£439.84 – 271.58 = 168.26 divided by 2 = £84.13 a week.

Therefore our third step should increase the rate for each child to £84.13 a week.

To remove the 3 million people of working age who are not in work from poverty we need to increase the current rates from £73.10 to £157.62 and £114.85 to £271.58. It could be done over six years by increasing the rate for a single person by £14.09 and for couples by £26.21 a week.

The working group looked at Council Tax and state that they looked at policies to reduce it for the poorest and have two options – firstly reducing the Council Tax on band A and B properties no matter what income level those living in them have, or restore the national council tax benefit scheme so everyone on low incomes gets a discount and those just living on benefits pay nothing at all. Since the scheme was abolished in 2013, the majority of councils have reduced the amount of benefits those of working age receive against their council tax.

The consultation paper is not ambitious enough, and it doesn’t end poverty in the UK. If you think we should be more ambitious and we should aim to end poverty in the UK over seven years, then please let the party know during the consultation period which ends on Sunday 31st March.

* 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 on this site as Michael BG.

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Mar '19 - 12:50pm

    Excellent pieces from Michael, these just about give me some idea that the third party can get traction, but , again, in my view only if joined to the new forth, TIG, we cannot afford to be separate from Heidi Allen and Chuka Umunna, friends both.

    Can I add myself to the list proposed by David, I have actually lived through the poverty described, as a result of the car accident that leaves my wife with permanent issues, and have worked as a motivator and adviser for the unemployed and vulnerable, yet there is little work for such people now!!!

  • Thank you David and Lorenzo for your positive comments. I applied to be a member of this working group but was rejected. From reading the consultation paper it seems they have taken “evidence” from experts, but they don’t list who these experts were. So we have no way of knowing if the organisations listed by David have given evidence.

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