Author Archives: Alison Garnham

The Independent View: Free school meals is universalism at its best – all children benefit, but low-income children benefit most

school mealsSo the summer is over and it’s back to school time. But there is a silver lining to the autumnal clouds: free school meals. On their first day back at school, all infants school pupils (4 to 7 year olds) should be able to sit down to enjoy a free, nutritious meal.

This is one of the rare occasions when politics visibly touches normal family life, saving harassed parents the need to make a packed lunch and saving them money at the same time. Families will save almost £10 a week on average for every child benefiting from the policy.

Families up and down the country for years to come will benefit from the leadership of local and national politicians of all parties in helping to make this happen. From the previous government and local authorities for piloting and taking it forward at a local level, to Michael Gove for backing the idea in principle, to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats for getting the Coalition to implement it. And now the Liberal Democrats have gone even further pledging to extend it to all primary school children if they are in government post-election.

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The Independent View: Universal Credit..will it work?

When the first Universal Credit (UC) pilot was launched in Ashton-under-Lyne last week, much attention was paid to the practicalities of the new benefit, from the timetable to the IT system, the challenge of online claims to the problems with monthly payments. A new report published this week by Child Poverty Action Group and the TUC, however, considers the bigger question of whether UC can deliver on its broader objectives, and in particular on how the new benefit can truly ‘make work pay’.

UC relies on two key design features to deliver on this promise. First, it allows claimants who …

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The Independent View: The determinants of child poverty

End child pverty now - Some rights reserved by RMLondonWhat do the public think are the key determinants of child poverty? New DWP polling released last week aimed to answer this question, but in fact proved anything but conclusive.

Asked to choose four out of a possible eleven factors that should be regarded as important when deciding if a child is growing up in poverty, respondents’ answers were spread remarkably evenly across the board. All the factors – from low income to parental disability, poor housing conditions to debt – were …

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The Independent View: How David Laws can help children and the economy at the same time

When David Laws arrived as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he famously found a note from his predecessor telling him ‘there’s no money left’. With the IFS warning child poverty levels have reached a turning point and will shoot upwards again, we have to hope that any handover note left for him this time is more optimistic, particularly on improving opportunities for poor children.

As Minister for Schools, David Laws will oversee the development of the party’s flagship policy to tackle child poverty, the Pupil Premium, which Sarah Teather lists as one of her main achievements in her time

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The Independent View: The benefits cap policy is based on myths

The benefit cap was announced by George Osborne at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2010. It means families will not be able to receive more than a total of £500 in benefits each week – regardless of local rental values or how many children are in the household. As the crucial votes on the cap take in the House of Lords on Monday, it’s important that the myths on which the cap policy is based are exposed.

Myth 1: The cap is just for out of work claimants of benefits

Ministers fostered the impression that this is about ensuring working families …

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The Independent View: There are now two main government narratives about child poverty

It’s been said that Margaret Thatcher’s governments did two things for poverty. First they increased it. Then they pretended it did not exist. As Alan Milburn prepares to makes his first speech as the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty on Tuesday, his task will be to help the Coalition avoid a similar, devastating, legacy.

The last government’s record was far from perfect, but Milburn should advise the Coalition to recognise the very real progress made and learn from the successes just as much as from the failings.

Some Ministers, including Lib Dems, have bizarrely trashed the last government’s

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  • User AvatarYousuf Farah 17th Nov - 11:58pm
    @Peter Martin Come on, there is no way the Lib Dems will form any kind of coalition or pact with the Tories after the election,...
  • User AvatarYousuf Farah 17th Nov - 11:45pm
    @RossMcL Well the SNP won it in the EU parliament elections this year, so that's usually a good indicator that the people there might vote...
  • User AvatarRossMcL 17th Nov - 11:00pm
    @Yousouf "It’s very likely that she will lose her Westminster seat." Really? How do you know that Yousouf? Are you local to East Dunbartonshire? Do...
  • User AvatarPaul Barker 17th Nov - 10:34pm
    Its much too early to give up on our chances in this Election, the situation is highly unstable. The Government is currently more unpopular than...
  • User AvatarAshley 17th Nov - 10:04pm
    I’ve seen and heard gender and age used in these reports about us being excluded from the debates. Neither is relevant. What is relevant is...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Nov - 9:44pm
    I'm trying to make some sense of Jo Swinson's line in this election. The Lib Dems seem to be stuck at around 15%-16% of the...