Who benefits?

So the Tories strike again; universal Child Benefit is to be abolished. I do not earn enough to be effected, but regardless, I disapprove.

Today’s ‘Sunday Morning Live‘ posed an interesting question; 90% of viewers who voted, answered no to “should we pay for people to have kids?” Perhaps if the question were to be phrased “should parents receive money for their children’s basic amenities?” the results would have been different. The money received from Child Benefit is hardly enough to pay for a child beyond survival, so I do not understand the idea of people making money out of this particular benefit.

I would be less bothered about this issue if the government invested more money into getting people into work, rather than making cuts, forcing them into deprivation. What needs to happen is an evaluation of the benefit system in its entirety, not just segmented cuts which lead to more people losing out than necessary.

One particular area that should be focused on is the childcare element of Working Tax Credit. On the Directgov website you can find out who qualifies for this:

You’re a lone parent

If you’re a single parent you must work 16 hours or more a week to claim help with childcare costs.

You’re part of a couple

Generally you and your partner must both work 16 hours or more a week to claim help. Only one of you has to work 16 hours or more if one of you is:

  • ill or disabled and claiming disability benefits
  • in hospital
  • in prison – serving a custodial sentence or remanded in custody awaiting trial or sentence

The average working hours of a full-time employee (9-5 Monday to Friday) is around 37 hours, but as part of a couple, this person does not receive help for childcare. It seems that even when one works more than the requirement for two adults put together, the system does not acknowledge this.

My research came about when DS started nursery to enable me to work and DH to attend his lectures. The system does not acknowledge that DH being a student is also a full-time job, as well as looking after DS. The cost of childcare is ridiculous and luckily DS only needs to be there for two half days a week. But there are less fortunate families, at approximately £20 a half day and £30 a full day, how does one expect a low income family to afford childcare and go to work five days a week? A family with less aspirations in a similar situation as us may choose the easier option to work part-time at 16 hours a week, instead of full-time, because the benefit system is willing to accommodate this. Maybe if they offered less financial incentives to not work and aided those who chose to earn their own money, we would have a more self-sufficient society.

Making cuts in the benefit system only works when there are alternative implements to encourage people to work, otherwise it is just another means of taxing the poor.

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