‘Double Lockout Bill’ – DWP Impact Assessment ignores impact on poverty levels

January 8, 2013

In response to the publication of the DWP impact assessment on the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill, Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“We know this is a bill which will make many people poorer so it is simply indefensible that the Government has, at the last minute, published an impact assessment that says nothing about poverty. Absolutely nothing. Whether you agree with the proposed cuts or not, it cannot be right to ignore their impact on child poverty. Discounting inconvenient facts is not a sound basis for policymaking.

“The truth, of course, is that the main impact of this bill will be to make life much more difficult for millions of ordinary families, whether they are surviving on meagre benefits or relying on tax credits to make work pay.

“The ‘Double Lockout Bill’ will leave low paid families, jobseekers, carers and disabled people locked out from the benefits of both rising prices and earnings, with the inevitable consequence that child poverty will increase. It’s wrong to punish the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society by cutting social security protection every time growth targets are missed while the better-off are protected.

“Iain Duncan Smith said in November that ‘This Government will always stand by its commitment to tackle child poverty’. But the impact assessment does nothing to explain how he can square that statement with this poverty-producing bill.”

CPAG report on the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill published Monday:

A new report published yesterday by Child Poverty Action Group, with contributions from a range of experts, reveals that the government’s welfare benefit uprating legislation is based on bogus claims and is a poverty-producing bill that will further exclude the poorest workers, jobseekers, carers and disabled people from the mainstream of society.

The legislation creates a ‘Double Lockout’ that excludes workers, jobseekers, carers and disabled people from a link with either rising prices or earnings. This stands in contrast to the ‘triple lock’ guarantee that the government has given pensioners.

Increasing benefits by 1 per cent over each of the next three years, significantly below OBR estimates for inflation and earnings, will amount to a 4 per cent real terms cut in benefits. This would be in addition to previously announced cuts to benefits.

The report finds that:

· The bill is poverty-producing and means that both absolute and relative child poverty will increase (chapter 1, Lindsay Judge)

· Contrary to arguments made by Ministers, welfare spending on workless families has been falling and most Jobseekers Allowance claimants find new jobs within months (chapters 2 and 4, Declan Gaffney, Tracy Shildrick and Rob MacDonald)

· The bill puts the economy at risk by failing to protect the economy’s ‘automatic stabilisers’ (chapter 3, Jonathan Portes)

· Contrary to popular perception, benefit fraud is at its lowest ever recorded level and the ‘scrounger’ stereotype is grossly inaccurate (chapter 5, Ben Baumberg)

· The government must focus on the root causes of social security and tax credit demand and prioritise progress on full employment, living wages, affordable housing and affordable childcare (chapter 6, Alison Garnham)

ENDS

Notes to Editors

· Polling shows that the public do not support a policy that locks out the poorest households and families from a link with rising prices and basic living standards. An Ipsos Mori poll from December 2012 showed that 69% of people believe benefits should rise at least in line with inflation: http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3093/Ipso....

· The Coalition Agreement commits to reducing child poverty by 2020. However, the bill will inevitably increase (i) relative low income child poverty, (ii) absolute low income child poverty, and (iii) material deprivation – all of which the government has legal targets for in the Child Poverty Act 2010.

 . Iain Duncan Smith reaffirmed his support for the child poverty agenda at the launch of the government’s consultation on child poverty measurement, November 2012 http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/m/measuring%20child%20pov...

 · CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.

 · CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty, which has over 150 member organisations and is campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.