We really are living in the age of the permanent campaign. The general election was just weeks ago, but the main parties and political commentators have moved on and are looking at events through the lens of the 2020 election. Before that happens, it’s worth noting something pretty peculiar about the 2015 campaign.
Child benefit is one of the strongest tools we have in reducing poverty, and it is vital that it is protected. But it can’t do the job on its own. We urgently need a comprehensive, action-focused strategy for reducing and then ending child poverty. The road ahead is long, and so we must start by protecting what we already have.
On 25th June the Department for Work and Pensions will release updated figures on poverty, including child poverty, for 2013-14.
These figures were delayed until after the election, meaning the last government went into a General Election with child poverty figures available only up to the end of March 2013 – that’s before most of the austerity-driven benefit cuts had been implemented.
We know that up to two-thirds of the people turning to the foodbank for help are having problems with the benefits system. That’s why since August 2013, a CPAG adviser funded by the Pears Foundation has been working in a foodbank centre in Tower Hamlets, helping people resolve the benefit problems which have brought them there, and gathering evidence about how and why people use foodbanks.
Four in ten Londoners in families aren’t able to afford a minimum standard of living. For lone parent families, this rises to two thirds.
These were the findings of new research as part of the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) project from Loughborough University, funded by Trust for London. This work is based on a series of focus groups where members of the public reach a consensus on what is needed, not only to ensure survival, but “in order to have the opportunities and choices necessary to participate in society.”
“Good news for family budgets” is how the Chancellor welcomed this week’s (negative) inflation figures, but the pinch parents have been feeling in the pocket can’t just be put down to rising prices. It’s also about how we’ve been short-changing our children.
Last week the Prime Minister promoted to the Cabinet a critic of the Coalition government’s original plans to end dedicated funding for local welfare schemes. While Amber Rudd MP’s career hasn’t been harmed by her stance, what are the prospects for local welfare assistance schemes (LWAS) and other emergency provision?
For the uninitiated, in 2013 council-run LWAS replaced the discretionary Social Fund as the way we help people on low incomes cope with unexpected or one-off costs – the safety net beneath our safety net.
It’s back. Tonight sees the return of Benefits Street on TV screens. Series 2 focuses on Kingston Road on the Tilery Estate in Stockton-On-Tees.
Channel 4’s promotional blurb claims: ‘Benefit Street reveals the reality of life on benefits, as the residents of streets in areas hit hard by the recession invite cameras into their tight-knit communities.’
This blog first appeared on The Staggers, on the New Statesman website.
When George Osborne claimed in last month’s Budget to have reduced child poverty, I’m sure mine weren’t the only raised eyebrows. Michael Gove made a similar claim yesterday, that the government has ‘been able to save £21bn in the welfare budget and at the same time reduce inequality and reduce child poverty in this country’. Important analysis published today by the New Policy Institute (NPI) hones in on the subtle flaw in this piece of political alchemy: it isn’t true.