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Update to Government's Proposed Regulations for
Single Parents on Income Support October 8th 2008

On Monday October 6th Secretary of State James Purnell presented a Command Paper to parliament and laid regulations before both Houses setting out proposed regulations to move lone parents from Income Support to Jobseeker's Allowance.

The Command Paper may be found here. It runs on for over a hundred pages.

In trying to rush these proposals through, the Government has gone against strong recommendations from its own Social Security Advisory Committee.

Quote from SSAC:

"The Committee raised concerns in a number of areas and had further specific recommendations in response to the proposed measures. The Government has considered the Committee’s views and its response to the specific recommendations is set out at the end of this statement. In summary, the Committee’s report raised the following concerns, some of which are more generic in nature and do not specifically relate to the proposed legislative changes:
  • the Government’s assertion that the proposed measures will lead to an improvement in the employment rate for lone parents and contribute to an actual reduction in child poverty;
  • the Committee’s concern that the proposals exposed a number of inconsistencies and tensions between the stated policy objectives and the objectives of other Government plans and programmes;
  • the treatment of lone parents who are also full-time students or who have a child in receipt of the lowest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA);
  • the potentially negative impacts on the family, with possible wider social impacts;
  • the availability and affordability of wrap-around childcare;
  • the ability of lone parents to meet the needs of their employers and those of their children;
  • the role of the Jobcentre Plus Personal Adviser in relation to the draft regulations;
  • the application and rate of labour market sanctions;
  • the treatment of lone parents who also home educate; and
  • a number of key operational issues." p.2

There are further references to home educators throughout the document. A total of 42 consultation responses were sent to SSAC many from home educators. A full list can be found on p.31.

The Education Otherwise response may be found here.

Our initial rough notes on the Command Paper may be found here.

In addition Education Otherwise Disability Group is extremely disappointed that the government chose not to follow the recommendation of the SSAC to allow lone parents to remain on Income Support in cases where children are in receipt of the lower level of Disability Living Allowance or where the children have special educational needs or disabilities.

Many parents find that they do not qualify for middle or higher rate of DLA because their child's condition is so variable. DLA is not paid out for specific leaning difficulties, which means that home educators who have to spend more time educating their children because of learning difficulties are unlikely to even get DLA. Many people also find that it is far more difficult to secure DLA when home educating as the decision makers do not have statements from teachers to back up the child's difficulty.

This will leave home educating lone parents with behaviourally difficult, mildly disabled, or children with specific learning difficulties, without the protection of an exemption from seeking work.

Education Otherwise Disability Group would like to call upon the government to listen to the lone parents themselves and also to the recommendations of the Social Security Advisory Committee.

Food for Thought:
Home Education for Teenagers

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