Lone Parents To Be Moved From Income Support To Jobseeker's Allowance
EO response to Social Security Advisory Committee June 2008
EO consultation response to DWP October 2007
These new regulations will apply throughout the United Kingdom. Starting in November 2008 the Government proposes that lone parents with a youngest child aged at least 12 will no longer be entitled to Income Support and will be transferred to Jobseeker's Allowance. This will then apply from October 2009 when the youngest child reaches 10 and from October 2010 when the youngest child reaches 7. At present there is no exception for home educating lone parents. Read our short summary about what the new regulations mean here.
Update August 22nd
The minutes of the May meeting of the Social Security Committee have now gone up on the SSAC website. The first half of the meeting appears to have been taken up with discussion of the draft regulations which, if approved by Parliament, will move lone parents from Income Support to Jobseeker's Allowance.
Areas queried by SSAC members:
- what is meant by "reasonable" travel distance to and from work when it is being decided if a lone parent is acting "reasonably" in accepting or not accepting a job
- what value will be placed on claimants' moral or cultural objections to particular forms of childcare
- what consideration will be given to childcare for disabled children
- what flexibility in the JSA regime will be available to cover bereavement
- what would happen if the child refused the proposed childcare arrangement
- would lone parents engaged in educational activity be able to complete their education
- what discretion would be available over the issue of "walking distance" to the JobCentre in rural areas
- members repeatedly raised concerns about the amount of discretion being given to Personal Advisors
- members queried the remit of the Decision Maker
- members felt it was important to consider "outcomes" for children
- members were concerned about the impact of benefit sanctions on vulnerable families
- members reported issues with prompt payment of tax credits
- members asked if lone parents could aggregate working hours to cover school holidays
- members noted that the proposed changes would affect women disproportionately "
Education Otherwise Government Policy Group is now investigating whether the draft regulations have moved from SSAC to the Department of Work and Pensions which we understood to be happening some time during August.
Update July 23rd
The draft regulations are with the Social Security Advisory Commitee until August 2008. SSAC will then make recommendations to Ministers. Parliament is now in recess and resumes in early October. The campaign site will post any updates from SSAC and the DWP Stakeholder Group. On Monday July 21st the DWP also published the long-awaited Welfare Reform Green Paper. You can find more details here.
Update June 22nd 2008
We are now waiting for the Social Security Advisory Committee to make its recommendations to Minister Stephen Timms and the Department of Work and Pensions. SSAC has been highly critical of the Government's plans to use Jobseeker's Allowance regime in this way. Any amendments to the draft regulations will be made at this point and the revised regs will be laid before the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The regulations which amend the Jobseeker's Act 1995 are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure which means they have to be approved by resolution in both houses. An Early Day Motion may be signed by some MPs who object to aspects of the proposed welfare reforms.
Parliament goes into recess on July 22nd and does not return until October. The regulations are intended to come into force in November 2008. It is not clear at this point how there will be time to approve the regulations through the proper channels. We anticipate that the regulations will also be referred to the Merits Committee.
Education Otherwise strongly recommends that home educating lone parents must be allowed to remain on Income Support.
Sign the petition to the Prime Minister here
Action Point 1 - Consultation: The Social Security (Lone Parents And Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008
- Respond to the SSAC consultation by June 13th. If you have written to your MP, you can use your letter to your MP as the basis of your consultation response to SSAC.
- Read our 2 page summary of the recommendations from the Government's own Work and Pensions Committee March 2008.
- Write to your MP. This debate will be closed after July 2008. Your MP will vote in Parliament on these regulations. When you respond to the SSAC consultation, send a copy of your response to your MP.
- Book a 10 minute appointment at your MP's local surgery to raise these issues.
- Make One Parent Families/Gingerbread aware of your concerns about home education. OPF is a major stakeholder in this debate.
- Sign the petition to the Prime Minister asking for home educating lone parents to remain on Income Support. Click here.
- Type your email address in this box to get an automatic email when there is a news update.
The consultation on new lone parent JSA regulations opened May 15th, ends June 13th 2008. Read our short summary about what the new regulations mean here.
The measures will be debated briefly in Parliament before the summer recess on July 22nd 2008. Guidance will be drafted for JobCentre staff during August and the measures will be introduced in November 2008. The Government can make these changes via "legislative amendments" which will not require new laws. The full consultation document is over 80 pages long, but the key point for home educating lone parents is the proposal to move lone parents off Income Support and on to Jobseeker's Allowance, when the youngest child is 12, then 10 and finally from age 7 in 2010.
An easy way to respond to this consultation is to email SSAC with a copy of the letter/email to your MP about the Government's plans. Include a brief note explaining that you wrote to your MP and that you wish to submit a copy of the MP letter as your contribution to the SSAC consultation closing on June 13th. If you have already written to your MP, send a copy to SSAC now as the basis of your consultation response. Education Otherwise strongly recommends that home educating lone parents must be allowed to remain on Income Support. Sample consultation responses from home
educators may be found here.
Education Otherwise letter to Minister Stephen Timms May 2008
"Education Otherwise Government Policy Group and Education Otherwise Disability Group recommend that lone parents who home educate must be allowed to remain on Income Support. Home education is not a lifestyle choice; for many of our children it is quite literally a lifeline."
More from the letter here.
Action point 2 - Government Work And Pensions Committee Report March 2008
The Government's Work and Pensions Committee is highly critical of the Government's plans, saying that "there are real concerns that JSA conditionality cannot be adapted to reflect the complex realities of lone parents' lives." Read our 2 page summary of the report.
Action point 3 - Write To Your Mp (If You Have Already Written, Write Again)
An easy way to contact your MP is via Write to Them. Sample letters here. Include personal details of how this will affect you and your children. Please don't copy someone else's letter, but instead take the points and make them your own. You can also change the order of the points Your constituency MP should pass your concerns to Minister Stephen Timms and it will be much less effective if the Minister receives hundreds of identical letters and emails. Respond to the SSAC consultation and send a copy of your response to your MP.
Points to consider in a letter to your MP:
More details in our 2 page summary here .
Action point 4 - Visiting Your MP
- Education Otherwise has recommended to the Minister that home educating lone parents must be allowed to remain on Income Support.
- The Government's Command Paper said that home educators should be an exception.
- The Government's Committee has serious reservations about the Jobseeker's regime for lone parents.
- Parents of children in school have 10 hours state childcare per day; home educating parents have none.
- These new regulations will apply equally to lone parents where the children have SEN. The only case where home educating lone parents will be allowed to remain on Income Support is when the child receives middle rate Disability Living Allowance or above. It is very hard to make a successful claim for DLA.
- Home education saves the state money which would be spent on school places.
- Research shows that home education works. More information here.
It can be very effective to raise your concerns face to face with your MP. Book an appointment via the MP's constituency office. Put the name of your MP plus "constituency" or "surgery" into google to get times and contact details. To find the name of your MP go to Write to Them and put your postcode in the search box. Education Otherwise will be happy to brief anyone who is talking to their MP. Contact us here.
More details in our 2 page summary here.
Action point 5 - One Parent Families/Gingerbread
One Parent Families is recognised by the Government as a major stakeholder in this debate. Please tell OPF your concerns about home educating lone parents. Home education support organisations and disability support organisations should also contact OPF.
EO meeting with the Chair of the DWP Lone Parent Policy Unit April 2008
On April 29th Alison Durbin the Head of the Parent Employment Division of the Department of Work and Pensions met with Education Otherwise. Read more here.
Welfare reform proposals announced in Parliament on April 3rd 2008
On April 3rd 2008 Minister Stephen Timms made a statement in parliament about the timescale for the new regulations. Read more here.
Work and Pensions Committee Report on Child Poverty March 2008
The Government's Work and Pensions Committee expresses grave reservations about the Government's proposals, stating that benefit sanctions should only be applied with extreme caution, and that the Jobseeker's Allowance regime is inflexible and in urgent need of a complete overhaul. Read more about the Committee's conclusions and recommendations in our 2 page summary here.
Research on the efficacy and benefits of home education
There have been several major studies published in the UK on the benefits of home education. More information here.