News

EDIA INFORMATION FROM ACTION FOR HOME EDUCATION

Parents and children across the UK are being urged to ask their MPs and Children’s Commissioners if they will fight for families in the face of the UK Government’s proposed new Social Security regulations which are due to come before the UK Parliament before the summer recess.

Under the new rules, lone parents who depend on Income Support while caring for their children will lose benefits unless they actively seek work as soon as their youngest child reaches 12 (from November 2008), with the age threshhold reducing to seven by 2010.

The Every Single Parent Matters? campaign  has been launched by Schoolhouse, Scotland’s national home education support organization, and AHEd,its counterpart south of the border, in response to the draconian measures, which they have jointly condemned as a “forced labor regime for lone parents”.

The campaign will involve a postcard lobby of MPs and Children’s Commissioners throughout the UK by parents and young people who oppose the Government’s plans to impoverish lone parents whose first priority is caring for their children.

The launch has been timed to coincide with the short consultation , which ends on Friday 13th June, prior to the regulations being brought before Parliament.

e1 e2 e3

Launching the campaign, AHEd Chair, Barbara Stark, said:

“These regulations will effectively transfer parents’ responsibility to decide what is best for their own children’s care on to Job Centre bureaucrats, who will simply follow the government mantra to ‘get lone parents into work’ regardless of family circumstances.

“Financial sanctions will be imposed on lone parents who fail to comply because they already have a full time unpaid job, and the loss of benefits will plunge already poor families below subsistence level. If parents are punished in this way, their children will pay dearly.”

Schoolhouse Convener, Alison Preuss, added:

“The UK Government has made it clear they see no value in parenting and would rather see mums and dads out flippping burgers on the minimum wage, topped up with tax credits, child care subsidies and housing benefits, than caring for their own children. This will of course cost the public purse far more than providing the safety net of Income Support for families, especially where children have special needs.

“Despite assurances from the Government that flexibility will be built in to the new system at local level, lone parents have reported that Job Center Plus staff have already stated there will be no exceptions.”

While Social Security matters are reserved to the UK Government, campaigners argue that the new regulations will impact adversely on children and families and should therefore also be a matter of concern to the devolved administrations. MSPs and AMs will also be asked what they will do to support lone parent families.

AHEd and Schoolhouse will collate the responses from elected representatives and Children’s Commissioners and make these available on their websites, along with details of non respondents.