Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill which is currently passing through Parliament?
If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.
Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015-16
Aims of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill
The Government website claims that the Bill would make provision about reports on progress towards full employment and the apprenticeships target; to make provision about reports on the effect of certain support for troubled families; to make provision about social mobility; to make provision about the benefit cap; to make provision about social security and tax credits; to make provision for loans for mortgage interest; and to make provision about social housing rents.
However, many of us see the Bill as a further economic attack on Britain’s poorest families. I’m concerned it includes many measures that risk trapping more children into poverty.
Beyond the well-publicised cuts to tax credits, which will leave many families on low wages struggling to buy basics, the government also plans to cap benefits. For the moment this will be set at £20,000 (£23,000 in Greater London), but a clause in the Bill allows the government to change the amount in future too – without consulting parliament. This paves the way for the threshold to sink ever lower, consigning children from larger families to the breadline without any democratic scrutiny or safeguarding.
Perhaps the most worrying element of the Bill is the government’s decision to abandon the duty to end child poverty by 2020. Instead this Bill would redefine “poverty”, scrapping income as the way we measure being poor and replacing it with worklessness, addiction and educational attainment. Given that two-thirds of our poorest children already live in low-paid “working” families, this is a completely unacceptable way to measure hardship. Furthermore, addiction is not a class-based problem, it affects wealthy people too, in fact substance abuse – especially alcohol related – is something that affects people who aren’t in poverty more than those who are. As for educational attainment, well Iain Ducan Smith has no qualifications, but he isn’t poor. I’ve a first degree and a Masters and I am poor.
If the causes of poverty, according to Duncan Smith, were in any way correct, we’d see the same people on the dole, year in year out. But we don’t. Instead we see a “revolving door” of claims from people who take low paid, insecure work for months or a couple of years at the most and end up out of work again. Through no fault of their own. This revolving door is consistent with the structural explanation of poverty – that government decision-making and socieconomic circumstances are the causes poverty.
This Bill would make the government dramatically less accountable for its policies, leaving poor families worse off and limiting children’s life chances.
Chief executive, Barnardo’s
Follow the progress of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill
The Bill was presented to the House on 9 July 2015. On Monday 20 July, the Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons where MPs debated the main principles of the Bill.
- Bills before Parliament: Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015-16
- Read Explanatory Notes: Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015-16
The Bill has now been sent to the Public Bill Committee where detailed examination of the Bill will take place. The Bill Committee is expected to hold its first oral evidence session on 10 September.
Guidance on submitting written evidence
Deadline for written evidence submissions
The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration. The Committee is expected to meet for the first time on Thursday 10 September; it will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage on Thursday 15 October.
Please note: When the Public Bill Committee reports, it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it could report earlier than Thursday 15 October 2015.
What should written evidence cover?
Your submission should address matters contained within the Bill and concentrate on issues where you have a special interest or expertise, and factual information of which you would like the Committee to be aware.
Your submission could most usefully:
- suggest amendments to the Bill with explanation; and
- (when available) support or oppose amendments tabled or proposed to the Bill by others with explanation
It is helpful if the submission includes a brief introduction about you or your organisation. The submission should not have been previously published or circulated elsewhere.
If you have any concerns about your submission, please contact the Scrutiny Unit (details below).
How should written evidence be submitted?
Your submission should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that submissions sent to the Government department in charge of the Bill will not be treated as evidence to the Public Bill Committee.
Submissions should be in the form of a Word document. A summary should be provided. Paragraphs should be numbered, but there should be no page numbering.
Essential statistics or further details can be added as annexes, which should also be numbered. To make publication easier, please avoid the use of coloured graphs, complex diagrams or pictures.
As a guideline, submissions should not exceed 3,000 words.
Please include in the covering email the name, address, telephone number and email address of the person responsible for the submission. The submission should be dated.
What will happen to my evidence?
The written evidence will be circulated to all Committee Members to inform their consideration of the Bill.
Most submissions will also be published on the internet as soon as possible after the Committee has started sitting.
The Scrutiny Unit can help with any queries about written evidence.
Scrutiny Unit contact details
Telephone: 020 7219 8387
Address: Ian Hook
Senior Executive Officer
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA