Tag Archives: child poverty

Polly, the Liberal Democrats are on the case already

In the Guardian on Tuesday (February 27) Polly Toynbee wrote a powerful Opinion piece entitled (in the print version), ‘The Tories have miscalculated: Britons do care about poverty’. Quoting the Institute for Public Policy Research’s figures, that despite the increase in the local housing allowance from April, more than 800,000 renting households receiving housing benefit will still have to fund the gap between their rent and their benefit, Polly also cites a new Action for Children report finding that many families are falling below the breadline, even when both parents work full-time on the minimum wage.

‘The gap between what universal credit provides and what a family needs to survive is growing by the month’, she reports, with Citizens Advice apparently counting 5 million people trapped ‘on a negative budget’, with incomes that will never cover their bills, and 2.35 million going hungry. This ‘national emergency’, so named by the Child Poverty Action Group, has escalated sharply in the last two years.

It was in the York Spring Conference last year that our party passed motion F12, ‘Towards a Fairer Society’. This was based on the policy paper 150 of the same name, drawn up by a party policy working group in the previous winter. The motion states that Conference welcomes the paper’s proposals to ‘End deep poverty, including a radical overhaul of the welfare system, so no family ever has to use a food bank in Britain, by

  1. Taking immediate steps to repair the safety net, including restoring the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, introducing emergency grants (not loans) and stopping deducting debt repayments at unaffordable rates and
  2. Following this up in the longer term with fundamental reforms to the welfare system’.

Conference then decided to introduce a Guaranteed Basic Income by increasing Universal Credit to the level required to end deep poverty within a decade and removing sanctions. It was already party policy to remove the benefit cap.

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27 February 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems table motion calling on Parliament to rebuke Lee Anderson’s Islamophobic comments
  • Cancer survival rates: Lib Dems will put giving UK among best cancer survival rates at heart of priorities
  • Tory support in freefall – Rob offers London liberal choice
  • Welsh Lib Dems call for action against child health inequality in Wales

Lib Dems table motion calling on Parliament to rebuke Lee Anderson’s Islamophobic comments

The Liberal Democrats have tabled a censure motion, calling on Parliament to rebuke Lee Anderson’s Islamophobic remarks and calling for him to come to the House and apologise.

The party is calling on Conservative MPs and the government to back the motion, adding that the Conservative party must “show that Islamophobia is not tolerated in Parliament”.

It comes as Anderson said that he would not apologise for his Islamophobic remarks as to do so would be “a sign of weakness”.

The motion tabled by the Lib Dems, if adopted by the government and passed by the House, would be an unprecedented rebuke of the Ashfield MP’s remarks. It would show that Parliament found the remarks unacceptable and Islamophobic and that Anderson should apologise in the House.

Liberal Democrat Women and Equalities spokesperson, Christine Jardine MP said:

Lee Anderson’s remarks were damaging, divisive and need to be called out for what they are – Islamophobic. He should apologise immediately.

British Muslims across the country deserve so much better than this. There is no place in our society for hatred like this.

If the government is too weak to call out this behaviour, the House – including Conservative MPs – must take matters into its own hands and show that Islamophobia is not tolerated in Parliament. Not go completely silent on the issue or look for a way to excuse the inexcusable.

This latest scandal proves once again that the Conservative party is not fit for purpose and is certainly not fit for office.

Cancer survival rates: Lib Dems will put giving UK among best cancer survival rates at heart of priorities

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6 February 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Sunak interview: Most people worry when they are hit with a surprise £1,000 bill, the PM does not even register it
  • PopCon: Tory MPs at launch pocketed £85,000 in severance payments
  • Dental plan “too little too late” for people desperately queuing in Bristol
  • “No child deserves to go hungry”- Welsh Lib Dems
  • Mid and West Wales MS Jane Dodds urges for more support for rural GP’s
  • “Simply papering over the cracks in our services”- Welsh Lib Dems

Sunak interview: Most people worry when they are hit with a surprise £1,000 bill, the PM does not even register it

Responding to the Prime Minister’s interview this morning, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

Rishi Sunak either does not care or does not get it. As the Prime Minister buries his head in the sand and pretends everything is fine, people across the country are suffering.

Most people when they are hit with a surprise £1,000 bill worry about how they are going to make their next mortgage payments or put food on the table for their children.

Instead, the Prime Minister does not even register the significance of that amount of money. Out of touch does not even begin to describe Sunak.

The Prime Minister’s cold soundbites that everything is working simply do not survive contact with reality.

PopCon: Tory MPs at launch pocketed £85,000 in severance payments

The Conservative MPs at today’s Popular Conservatism launch pocketed almost £85,000 in taxpayer-funded pay-outs, analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The Liberal Democrats said, “This is not popular Conservatism, it’s economic vandalism.”

Liz Truss pocketed a £18,660 taxpayer payout despite previously criticising “handouts” to help with the cost of living, while Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed £16,800 despite attacking the size of the state. Other Conservative MPs who attended the event, including former Chief Whip Wendy Morton, former Home Secretary Priti Patel and ex-education minister Andrea Jenkyns, all took severance payments worth thousands of pounds. In total Conservative MPs at the event pocketed £84,955 in taxpayer-funded payouts.

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10 January 2024 – today’s Welsh press releases

  • “Urgent action needed to beat the clock in climate fight”- Welsh Lib Dems
  • Jane Dodds MS calls for more mental health support for rural Wales
  • “Now’s the time to capitalise on Green energy”- Welsh Lib Dems
  • “It’s time to call an end to child poverty”- Welsh Lib Dems

“Urgent action needed to beat the clock in climate fight”- Welsh Lib Dems

Today, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on both the Welsh Labour Government and the UK Conservative government to get serious on tackling the climate crisis.

According to BBC analysis, the year 2023 has been confirmed as the hottest year on record. And last week, the Met Office reported that the UK experienced its second warmest year on record in 2023.

Commenting, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:

I was deeply concerned to hear that this past calendar year has been confirmed to be the hottest on record.

If the past few years of extreme weather and soaring temperatures have not been a wake-up call, then this one should surely send alarm bells ringing both in Cardiff Bay and Westminster.

We desperately need urgent action to help us beat the clock in this fight against climate change.

Make no mistake, there is no do over. We can either make peace with our failures or fight not just for our future, but for our children’s and their children’s futures.

So, I ask governments across the globe, not just here in the UK, what will it be?

How will you want to be remembered for what you did during the greatest crisis humanity has ever encountered?

Jane Dodds MS calls for more mental health support for rural Wales

Today in the Senedd, Jane Dodds MS has called on the Welsh Government to improve access to mental health support and substance support for people living in rural areas.

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What on earth is Keir Starmer playing at by refusing to remove two child limit?

One of the cruellest things that the Conservatives introduced was limiting benefits claims to two children.

Just last week, the Child Poverty Action Group and other children’s charities wrote to all party leaders highlighting the impact of this dreadful measure and calling for its removal.  They said:

The two-child limit is a discriminatory policy which is a clear breach of children’s human rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The two-child limit robs children of the basic joys of childhood. It forces parents to take out a loan to buy a school uniform. Children give up hobbies because of the costs associated, and they miss out on birthday parties as they cannot afford to bring a gift for a friend.

The cost of living crisis has made the impact of the policy even more acute. The number of affected families struggling to pay for gas, electricity and food has risen sharply in the last 12 months.

The two-child limit has a devastating effect on families like Joanna’s.  Joanna works full-time and lives with her partner and three children. Her partner is too unwell to work at the moment. They lose out on £270 a month due to the two-child limit. Joanna has struggled to keep up with rent payments and, in June 2023, her landlord was granted an outright possession order to evict the family. They have just 14 days to leave their home.

Scrapping the two-child limit is the most cost-effective way to reduce child poverty. It would lift 250,000 children out of poverty and mean 850,000 children are in less deep poverty.  This single policy change would transform the life chances of 1.5 million children across the UK, children like Joanna’s, who are currently facing homelessness.

Children deserve the chance to thrive, but continued inaction will permit a cohort of children to grow up in poverty, to miss out on play, to be held back at school and denied a better future. If nothing is done, over half of children in larger families will be growing up in poverty by 2027/28.

So I was genuinely shocked to see Keir Starmer tell Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday that Labour would retain this regressive, poverty increasing measure.

Of all the bad things the Tories have done, surely to goodness this would be one of the first to go?

For the avoidance of doubt, Liberal Democrats would get rid of it. We opposed it when the Tories brought it in and continue to do so.

UPDATE 20 July 9 am

In fact here is Ed telling Kay Burley exactly that yesterday.

As well as being the wrong thing to do morally, Starmer has now put himself in a position where he has picked an unnecessary fight with his party. Scottish Labour MSPs Monica Lennon and Pam Duncan Glancy expressed their frustration on Twitter:

They were joined by constituency Labour Parties, MPs and other MSPs.

Monica Lennon later wrote in the Daily Record:

Knowingly plunging children and their families into hardship is heartless and with the cost-of-living crisis hitting low-income families hard, it’s never been more vital to scrap the cap.

Many of those affected are working families, who despite grafting to provide for their kids, struggle to put enough food on the table in our unequal society. Single mothers are hit the hardest.

It’s no wonder many people are feeling scared and hopeless because the choice between heating and eating is no choice at all.

I agree with every word of that.

Starmer has given himself a problem he didn’t need to have.

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20-22 January 2023 – the weekend’s press releases (part 1)

  • Sunak fine: From partygate to seatbelt gate, Conservative politicians are taking British people for fools
  • Research reveals squeezed middle facing biggest income tax hit in a decade
  • Alarm as Number of Homeless Children in Wales Rises by 59%

Sunak fine: From partygate to seatbelt gate, Conservative politicians are taking British people for fools

Responding to the news that Rishi Sunak has been given a Fixed Penalty Notice for not wearing his seatbelt during a Lancashire visit, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

Rishi Sunak has shown the same disregard for the rules as Boris Johnson, and now becomes the second ever Prime Minister to be fined by the police.

From partygate to seatbelt gate, these Conservative politicians are just taking the British people for fools.

Whilst they continue to behave as though it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else, this fine is a reminder that the Conservatives eventually get their comeuppance.

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Willie Rennie highlights impact of Universal Credit cut

This week, the Scottish Parliament debated the £20 per week cut to Universal Credit that will be hitting already struggling families from tomorrow.

Willie Rennie highlighted the number of families on Universal Credit in the constituencies of Scotland’s Conservative MPs in his speech.

He also set out how some families, affecting up to 8000 children, would lose much more. If their entitlement to Universal Credit is £20 or less, then they lose entitlement to so many other benefits, including the Scottish Child Payment. A briefing from the Child Poverty Action Group explains:

Mhari is 23. She and her partner have a two year old son. Mhari works part-time and her partner works full time at the National Minimum Wage, earning just over £1900 between them. They get £19.45 per week from universal credit (UC) and are entitled to £10 per week Scottish Child Payment. If UC is cut by £20 per week they will lose entitlement to both their UC support and Scottish Child Payment. This means their household income will drop by £1531 per year. They will lose an £18 every four weeks Best Start Foods payment card and they will not be entitled to the Best Start Grant early learning payment, worth £250, when their two year old turns three.

This highlights that for some families the £20 cut to UC will result in a much larger loss in overall household income.

Here is Willie’s speech in full:

Andrew Bowie has 3,620, David Mundell has 6,050, David Duguid has 6,280, John Lamont has 7,150, Alister Jack has 8,190 and Douglas Ross has 6,110. Those are the numbers of families in those politicians’ constituencies who will be directly impacted by the cuts to universal credit. The politicians can stand by and watch that happen to their constituents or they can stand up for them now, make their voices heard and, more important, make their votes count against the cut.

The measure could mean a £1,040 cut to people’s income or 22,000 people being plunged into poverty across the UK, according to the Child Poverty Action Group. The £20 is not a treat; it is a necessity for families, whose costs continue to rise. Their costs have not gone down just because the impact of the virus is potentially waning. Their costs are going up and at such a time they need more support, not less.

The Trussell Trust is right to point out that the move could force 82,000 people in Scotland alone to use food banks, one in four people to skip a meal, one in five to be unable to heat their home and one in five to be unable to get to work. That is especially ironic because, apparently, the cut is designed to get people into work. If they cannot get to work, they will not earn any more money than they are earning now.

The Conservatives seem to be concerned about the cost of the £20 rise to the overall Exchequer, but they have also said that work is the best route out of poverty. If they had any confidence in their multibillion-pound so-called work plan, they would not be cutting universal credit, because if all those people went into better-paid work there would not be a demand on universal credit. Therefore, their plan does not work.

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Education prospects worsen for UK children in poverty

As most children go back to school this week, fears that disadvantaged children will have fallen behind in their schoolwork in the months of COVID lockdown seem confirmed by interviews conducted with more than 3000 teachers and heads at about 2000 schools in England and Wales by the National Foundation for Educational Research. Their study, reported yesterday, found that, while the average learning lost was reckoned to be about three months for all pupils, teachers expect that more than half of pupils in schools in the most deprived areas have lost four months or more.

But the educational outlook was sadly worsening anyway for around four million children who now, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation are living in poverty in the UK (jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-2019-20). A new report has found worsening educational inequality already, stating that “there is disturbing new evidence that the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has stopped closing for the first time in five years.” This report, from the Education Policy Institute (epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/education-in-england-annual-report-2020), finds that disadvantaged pupils in England are 18.1 months of learning in English and Maths behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs. This is the same gap as five years ago, and the gap at primary school increased for the first time since 2007.

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Daily View: 16 June 2020

I’ve been writing this feature for nearly three months now, and hope that you’ve enjoyed it. Today, I’m going to change the style a little, to make it a little less formulaic. Bear with me…

We’ve got a leadership contest underway, if the wave of press releases from the various campaign teams is any guide. By the way, we won’t be publishing them here at Liberal Democrat Voice in line with our policy of neutrality in internal elections. But I would like to see a contest of ideas, especially as I am a genuine floating voter this time. I can’t help …

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Tackling the scourge of holiday hunger

As we near the end of the school holidays, I have been thinking a lot this summer about holiday hunger – an estimated three million children in the United Kingdom are at risk of going hungry during the school holidays.

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Helping parents with the cost of school uniforms is a great campaign

For an example of the real difference Liberal Democrats in government can make to peoples lives, look no further than the announcement by Kirsty Williams of new guidance on school uniforms in Wales.

There’s no doubt that the cost of school uniforms can be a real issue for poor families and the tendency of some schools to make arbitrary decisions which put up the cost are an example of how arbitrary decisions by the state can adversely affect people lives.

The Children’s Society have issued several reports on this, highlighting the high costs caused by schools which have over complicated uniforms …

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Ending relative poverty in the UK is easy

Recently I have seen a couple of comments on LDV which state that ending relative poverty in the UK would be a difficult and complex thing to achieve. They are mistaken.

The reason someone is living in relative poverty is because they don’t have enough money. The answer, therefore, is to ensure that benefit levels give them enough to pay all of their housing costs and have enough left over to be on the poverty line and not below it. As Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in his report points out “employment alone is insufficient” to lift someone out of poverty.

Already we have a system which reduces benefits by 63p for every pound earned, but 4 million workers live in poverty. This is because the gain from working is not enough to lift the person out of poverty. If they were already out of poverty when living only on benefits then no one working could be living in poverty.

We need to ensure that those living on benefits have enough money to pay all of their housing costs. Scrapping the benefit cap helps, as would increasing Local Housing Allowance in line with local rents (both party policy). However, they don’t go far enough. Local Housing Allowance was introduced by the Labour government in 2008. It sets maximums for housing benefit depending on local rents, and sets out what type of accommodation different types of families can have.

It is not liberal for the state to tell people how many rooms they can have to live in. It is not liberal for the state to force tenants into debt arrears. It is not liberal for the state to force someone to move house when they experience difficult times such as when they become unemployed.

It is liberal for the state to pay 100% of the housing costs of those on benefit. Therefore we should have as our long-term aim scrapping the LHA and in the meantime increase its value above the bottom 30% of local rents. (I expect this is the main reason that 1.9 million pensioners are living in poverty). The least we should do is reduce the single person age down to 25 from 35, so a single person aged between 25 and 34 should no longer be forced to live in shared accommodation.

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Reject! Reject! Reject! We Demand Better

There is a lot of anger about in British politics today. But I believe we Liberal Democrats are not angry enough.

We write a whole pamphlet on Demanding Better, and pass an entire motion on what we want to Demand Better.

But we don’t condemn. We don’t say what we believe is rotten in the practice of government in Britain and the way it has allowed the decline in the state of our nation.

We won’t convince people about what we want until we say what we reject.

So what do we fiercely reject? These are what rouses most anger in me.

  1. The leaders of both main parties allowing the threat of leaving the EU to go on for nearly three years, and still choosing to risk a no-deal Brexit rather than unambiguously giving the people the final say in a People’s Vote.
  2. That so many top elected politicians appear to scheme for their own and their kind’s advancement instead of putting the needs of the country first.
  3. That the Government squanders the country’s resources on preparing for Brexit while ignoring the wish of ordinary people for secure lives without fear for the future, as well as the despair of industrialists facing continued uncertainty.
  4. The attitude of the Conservative Government in letting the weakest in society go to the wall. So ordering everybody regardless of circumstances to take any job they can find and look after themselves, and refusing adequate welfare benefits to those who struggle.
  5. The lack of response by this Government to the evidence of there being four million children now living in poverty here, and of the increasing necessity for poor families to use food banks, a disgrace in this rich country.
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Book Review: The End of Aspiration? by Duncan Exley

Subtitled Social mobility and our children’s fading prospects, Duncan Exley’s book explores the facts and myths around aspiration. Referencing many studies, linked with real-life stories of people who have moved from rag-to-riches, Exley asks how far the UK is from being an ‘opportunity’ society and whether social mobility should be a priority of policy-makers.

Duncan Exley is the former Director of the Equality Trust. In his book, he delves into issues of equality and poverty, probing the real factors behind people not being able to attain the life they would like to live.

Recently, I toured a secondary school in North Devon with the headteacher. I asked her what the biggest issue was for the young people there. She told me, without hesitation, lack of aspiration. She explained that many of her pupils came from families which could not afford to travel outside of the town, not to mention the county. Pupils stayed in school as long as they were required to and then left for local jobs. She had started taking groups of pupils to Oxford open days and was proud that several now were at Oxford and other universities. But she said one of the hurdles she faced was lack of funding for school trips so that young people could experience the bigger world outside of their own community.

This is one of the many themes Exley tackles – how to give young people from more deprived circumstances the opportunities to explore, experience and participate in the bigger world.

Creating opportunities, however, is not enough. Exley looks at the biology of poverty and cites studies which link the nutrition of grandparents to the birth weight and health of babies. Low birth weight has been linked to poorer attainment. A healthy population is one which can thrive, and child poverty must be tackled. Exley notes the effect of health on career progression:

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Hungry children are suffering, here in the UK

I’ve been doing a bit of work in my constituency about the effects of Universal Credit on local people, the rising use of Food Banks, and the inadequate funding given to rural schools in North Devon.

With that perspective, I was dismayed but not surprised to read a recent article highlighting the social exclusion experienced by children living in poverty.

This is personal for me – I grew up in a military household, having enough to live on but not a lot, and when my father left the forces, we were poor for a couple of years until he retrained and got another job. For those years, I felt excluded. I wore hand-me-downs and home-made clothes. I didn’t fit in as we had moved into a rural community from outside the country. My accent was funny, my safety net of having friends from military families on base was gone, and I was bullied. Things settled down, but I will never forget that first year of leaving the ‘family’ of military life and entering civilian life as an 11-year-old child. But I was never hungry.

The new study by University College London, Living Hand to Mouth, published yesterday, looks at the impact hunger has on children’s lives. As readers will know, free school meals have been cut back by the Conservative Government. It is Lib Dem policy, however, to reinstate free school meals for all those on Universal Credit and, further, that all primary school children regardless of their income level should have a free school meal. Nutrition is ever so important for learning. A healthy child is one who can flourish and absorb knowledge. A hungry one can not.

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28 March 2019 – today’s press releases

My apologies for lateness this evening, as I’ve been distracted by the Opening Day of the 2019 baseball season. And, as my beloved Cincinnati Reds won, I’m in a good mood…

Tories have pushed 200,000 children into poverty

The number of children living in absolute poverty across the UK has risen by 200,000 in a year, to a total of 3.7 million.

Responding to the government data release, Liberal Democrat DWP Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

This government should be absolutely ashamed of itself for presiding over the first increase in absolute child poverty in six years.

The main culprits – the benefits freeze, the arbitrary

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13 December 2018 – (not just) today’s press releases

You’d think that putting the day’s piece to bed after 11.30 p.m. should cover everything. But no, the Press Teams both in London and Cardiff had one last shot in the dying moments of yesterday, so I’m including them with today’s batch. Enjoy…

  • Theresa May Must Give the People the Final Say – Welsh Lib Dems
  • PM must now change course and offer people the final say
  • Soaring numbers of children trapped in temporary accommodation is shameful
  • Welsh Lib Dems Welcome Prostate Cancer MRI Scans
  • Govt must set out plans to avoid NHS winter crisis
  • Lib Dems demand MPs holidays are cancelled to vote on Brexit
  • Cable:

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Five bigger problems for young people than tuition fees

I don’t think anyone could deny that young people are getting a raw deal. But every time the conversation turns to young people, the go-to issue is tuition fees.

There are so many issues which have a much greater impact on young people than tuition fees, especially those from low-income backgrounds.

Here are 5 examples:

1. A lower minimum wage

The minimum wage of £7.83 per hour is far too low. But the rate is even lower for Under 25s. For 21-24 year olds it is £7.38, and for 18-20 year olds it is £5.90.

Maybe (at a push) you could justify a lower …

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Child poverty is a disgrace in a rich country

In 2010, Parliament set a target for the government to eradicate child poverty by 2020 in the Child Poverty Act. The big three parties at the time, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour all agreed that this was a worthwhile target and strived to achieve it. However since then, we have seen a majority Conservative government attempt to abolish this target, stopped only by the House of Lords, as well as seen child poverty trend upwards, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasting that it will reach over 5 million children, or 37%, by 2021-22. The government set out a …

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How can we make sure families have enough to live on?

On the Six O’clock News on BBC1 on Thursday there was a report on children living in poverty.

Mark who is a single dad is not working so I suppose we should expect him and his children to be living in poverty. He lost £340 a month because of the benefit cap. It is our policy to abolish the benefit cap but that is not enough to remove Mark and his family out of poverty.

The report correctly states that those who work more than 15 hours are not subject to the benefit cap. Therefore the problem must be the level of benefits.

Corey is working being paid the minimum wage but he and his partner Danielle and their children are living in poverty.

The report states that Corey some months receives no Universal Credit because he can receive two lots of wages in a month. I assume he must be being paid every 4 weeks. On the government web site it states, “If you’re paid weekly, every 2 weeks or every 4 weeks, you’ll receive more than one set of wages during some assessment periods. This means your earnings might be too high for Universal Credit. You’ll be told if they are and whether you’ll need to reapply to continue to get Universal Credit”.

This is a madness. Surely Universal Credit should be paid on the assumption you receive the same amount of wages each week and then if you earn more for a particular week then the amount is adjusted downwards for that week which is being paid on the day of the month allocated to that claimant, but that you don’t end up with no benefit just because there are two pay days in one calendar month.

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Benefit Cuts Will Increase Child Poverty

A new report just released by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that benefit cuts will increase child poverty, especially in the North East and in Wales.

Absolute child poverty would increase by 4%, and three-quarters of that would be linked to the freeze to most working-age benefits and limiting of tax credits and universal credits to two children. Using forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, combined with current benefit plans, the study shows child poverty will increase in each English region and nation of the UK.

Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesman, Stephen Lloyd MP, says

These figures from

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Opinion: Be ambitious for London – end child poverty, improve child wellbeing

 

While you know London has a booming economy, and is a centre of job and wealth creation, the largest city of one of the world’s largest economies, you may be less aware of the issue of child poverty; it is also a city where significant numbers (over six hundred thousand children, around two fifths of the total) grow up in poverty.

As a political party we need to continue to become more well known for committing to improving children’s lives in our capital and I believe that by drawing attention to this issue we will improve life for all. The present situation has developed, persisted and augmented on the watch of successive London Mayors, whether Labour, Conservative or sometime independent. As a matter of strategic importance to London, there is no question that the issue is the responsibility of the Mayor.

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The Independent View: Save our safety net

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 dad lives on a low income and does not have the savings to buy five beds and mattresses, and all the other furniture that is needed. If the property isn’t adequately furnished, the children will have to be taken into care. (See case study here).

Situations like this exist up and down the country. In this case, the family were awarded a loan from the local welfare provision (LWP) scheme run by their local authority which allowed them to start again after this period of massive instability. But if they lived in a different part of the country their local provision might not have been as generous, or the local council simply may not have established a scheme at all. And with central government funding to councils for LWP currently under threat, support of this type is likely to be even more limited in the future.

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Inequality “narrows” due to Liberal Democrat policies

imageAn interesting report (£)  in the Sunday Times yesterday tells how official figures show that the gap between the richest and poorest is narrowing.

While most people have suffered a squeeze on incomes since Britain was plunged into recession six years ago — and only now is the economy getting back to pre-crisis levels — those on lower incomes have done relatively better than those at the top. Households Below Average Income, an official report published last week, showed income inequality, measured after taking into account housing costs, had fallen to

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Opinion: On child poverty targets, on which I agree with David Laws

“A fair, free and open society, in which… no one shall be enslaved by poverty.”

The fundamental basis of our party’s constitution – its very soul – is the elimination of poverty. We may disagree amongst us on how best to achieve this ambitious goal, but there’s little dissent on having it as a goal, particularly when it comes to the blight of children growing up in poverty.

As Caron made clear, we find ourselves in government with a party that doesn’t share many of our values – rarely is this crystallised as starkly as this week’s battle over child poverty …

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David Laws challenges Tories on child poverty

The frustrations of being in government with the Tories are no greater than when they are concerned with issues of poverty and vulnerability. Many Liberal Democrats have ongoing concerns about welfare reforms which remove support from people who need it. However much we might try to console ourselves with the fact that we are making a difference with things like free school meals, the raising of the tax threshold, extra childcare for the poorest, an early start to education for the poorest 2 year olds and making sure that the whole country enjoys the benefits of the economic recovery and …

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Martin Horwood MP writes… 1000 days of hunger

The first thousand days of a child’s life – from conception through to their second birthday – are full of moments to cherish. First birthdays, first steps, first words. Whether these events are captured on film, or retold to maximum embarrassment in later years, they are treasured milestones in a child’s life.

A report published yesterday by UNICEF reminds us that those first thousand days aren’t only precious, they are the most critical in shaping a child’s future. Their health, their growth, their ability to learn and even their potential to earn are shaped during this period by one crucial …

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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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Attacking child poverty – David Laws wants your views…

Child poverty in the UK is way too high. It is at unacceptable levels and has been for too long. The government is united in taking child poverty seriously and we are determined – even in difficult times – to reduce child poverty and increase opportunities.

Traditionally we have defined poverty simply by relative income. We know now that this is not sufficient. A child’s experience of poverty is about more than whether their family income this week is low.

That is why we are consulting on a new measure of poverty. The new measure is not about abandoning the past. Nor is it about massaging

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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

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 16 Comments
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