UK options for welfare reform for large families

May 14th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Charlie Cooper in The Independent writes:

Whether or not one accepts a link between thePhilpott case and the argument for , the tragedy has focused attention on one of the most difficult questions in modern politics: how the state should discourage people on benefits from having large numbers of children and expect the welfare system to pick up the bill.

And the options:

Docking benefits when children miss school:

One proposed policy, already in place in some US states, is for the parents of children who miss school to be docked benefits. In Michigan, parents whose children play truant for ten days see their social security cut.

In the UK, a senior government advisor suggested that the UK employ a similar strategy, extracting truancy fines from family’s state benefit.

Pros: encourages parents to be responsible for children’s education, without automatically removed their child benefit.

Cons: does not address issues of welfare dependency.

NZ has gone down this path.

Capping benefits:

A policy that is about to come into force in four London boroughs and will soon be rolled out nationwide, is that total benefits payments will be capped at £500 a week, or £26,000 per year for families of all sizes. The aim of the policy is to “make work pay” by bringing maximum benefit payments below the average full time salary.

However, the impact is expected to be predominately felt by large families, who make up the largest number of people currently receiving benefits above the cap. 73 per cent of households affected have three or more children.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said in its Green Budget 2013 that the policy may have an impact on fertility rates “since the cap will effectively reduce the state financial support for some large families”.

Pros: tackles the problem of families having children for the sake of the benefit they bring while also encouraging people into work.

Cons: will cut the income of families by an average £93 per week – plunging many into poverty.

I wouldn’t do this for current families, but you could announce this as a policy so people in future know that if they choose to keep having more children on welfare, they won’t keep getting more money.

Cutting the number of children eligible for benefits:

An idea that would once have been considered extreme now has the backing of senior Conservatives and is being considered by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary. David Davis, a former Tory leadership challenger, has said in the wake of the Philpott case, that there is “a strong argument to restrict child benefit whether it is to two, three or four children”, although he added that policy should not be made “on the back of one story”.

His words echo Mr Duncan Smith last year, when he suggested that he would consider capping benefit payments for new claimants after the birth of the first two children – a scheme that was dubbed the “two-child policy” and earned comparisons to China’s population control methods. Charities said any such move would have “a devastating impact on children”.

Pros: directly targets the problem of families having children for the sake of the benefit award they bring.

Cons: will unfairly penalise the children of families that exceed the cap.

The Clinton reforms cut off funding for any additional children if the parent/s were already on welfare.

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21 Responses to “UK options for welfare reform for large families”

  1. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    All this is just messing around with the symptoms of a broken society.

    The causes of the breakdown are what needs addressing.

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  2. lastmanstanding (1,310 comments) says:

    What ever action is taken is going to penalize the children. But lets face it they are already penalized.

    The 300lb gorilla in the corner is that in the UK US Oz and here there are significant numbers of couples who cant have children of their own and who make excellent parents and who have the financial where with all to give those children a decent upbringing.

    The solution ( and lets think of the children rather than their dumbarsed natural parents for a change) is to take the children off the dumbarses and give them to those couples.

    Whilst we test people for driving flying a plane we have no test for prospective parents who can cause misery beyond belief to their poorly raised children.

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  3. Manolo (14,173 comments) says:

    In many cases welfare money is given to losers, deadbeats, idlers and loafers, when in fact NZ should be targeting the infirm, the elderly, the disabled, the people in real need.

    Government after government tinkered around the edges, without any desire to implement a radical reform. It is needed.

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  4. Liberty (277 comments) says:

    Benefits should be capped. Average wage less 20%
    It is totally unacceptable to have beneficiaries living the life of Riley while
    Joe Blogs from struggle street. Gets of his arse and works.

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  5. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    There is no answer that is acceptable to the population. We are going to breed ourselves to extinction, at least of Western Civilisation.

    In the UK it’s mainly the Muslims breeding, on benefits. I can’t say what it is in NZ, racist.

    Homosexual marriage will fix it.

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  6. Nigel Kearney (1,097 comments) says:

    Eliminating welfare benefits after the children have been born will help the problem in the long term but children will suffer in the short and medium term. Preventing people from reproducing is not an option. The least bad option is that people who don’t earn enough to properly care for their kids are not allowed to keep them. This will horrify many people but is the only way to make sure kids are taken care of properly without incentivising the damaging choices people are making at the moment.

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  7. scrubone (3,097 comments) says:

    We’ve got a system that’s designed to avoid pain.

    But we learn from pain.

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  8. Fox (206 comments) says:

    Well said Nigel (10:33am).

    But what to do with the children that are taken away?

    And also, would taking away the children really be a successful deterrent? Are increased benefits the prime motivator for these people having more children, or are there other issues at play as well?

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  9. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Dennis Horne (1,068) Says:
    May 14th, 2013 at 10:32 am
    ——————————–

    Too late, with the male Y gene numbering 46 and the female X gene at 1000, we are already a doomed species (and no, you canno blame the lassies for this one). You guys, which are more girl than guy anyway, are going to have to morph into something different to allow reproduction to continue. I’m sorry, but like it or not, you’re going to have to have a bra and suspenders drawer next to your socks :-)

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  10. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    @Judith: “… you’re going to have to have a bra and suspenders drawer next to your socks.”

    Is that a threat or a promise, Drop-Dead-Gorgeous? (When are you inviting me up to Omaha?)

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  11. david (2,194 comments) says:

    Lastmanstanding – 10:15. Never heard of the ‘stolen generation”? They tried that solution and it eventually crashed and burned in spectacular PC style.

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  12. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    Anyone daft enough to want to bring up others’ offspring must be a woman.

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  13. scrubone (3,097 comments) says:

    david: a very good point – we know how such a scheme would end. Almost makes you want to do as much as you can without actually removing the children… which means maybe it would be a good idea to feed kids in schools. Sigh.

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  14. sifty (23 comments) says:

    We have unfortunately somehow evolved in many western societies where we now have a clear case of reverse Darwinism. This does not bode well for the future genetic stock.Those with intelligence aspiration and work ethics best placed to pass that on to their offspring are barely replacing themselves and we are left with the feckless underclass replicating themselves disproportionately.

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  15. gravedodger (1,575 comments) says:

    Lastmanstanding Excellent idea but sadly many of the children of those cretins are foetal alcohol syndrome damaged or have other problems that will cause many prospective adoptive parents to stay away.
    Also with closed adoption now the fashion adoptive parents are no more than foster parents wich is a large load of cobblers.
    When will society realise that welfare is the problem and not the solution.

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  16. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    On the ABC last night here in Aus, it was agreed by a panel that if a single mum gets a new partner who earns LESS than $30K she is worse off, and that is after ‘family benefits’ are taken into acoount. An MP and journos made up the panel and they were referring to a report.

    However what was not said, was that it then puts her in the position to work, where as before she was unable to do so due to child care costs.

    The best way around the whole matter after everything has been taken into account; economic, all productivity levels, social, future generational benefit, personal, ect. is to allow ‘mothers in realationships with children’ to work from 9-3 if they choose to – tax free. {police ect is different].

    As someone said in the paper here the other day:

    “…Productivity? Think about getting to work: When you travel through government ticket barriers at the train station it takes two government workers to keep an eye on what is supposed to be an electronic system. Or if you drive, it takes an entire team effort to direct you around a pothole. Getting a coffee is now a form of art at minimum wage, with no reasonable future income prospects, and of which people expect daily at morning teatime. And don’t even mention what is expected of you in ‘their’ time once you get to work.
    Instead, limit immigration, because as WW2 showed us, that by putting a comb through the economy like they did with the ‘war effort’ and by employers putting some committment into training as the millitary showed, not only would things be cheaper and staff wealthier, but whole families would be in themselves happier.
    But what side of politics would ever want peace in peace time? It’s the government stupid!…..’ – or words like that. :cool:

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  17. Ed Snack (1,940 comments) says:

    The Australian “Stolen Generation” is a myth, promoted for racist and political reasons. With very rare exceptions the children were removed because of endemic child abuse, where non-full blooded aboriginal children were particularly targeted.

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  18. Sean (290 comments) says:

    You see the inherent bias right from the start, when talking about cutting the number of children eligible for benefits. The scheme doesn’t “unfairly penalise the children of families that exceed the cap” at all. Its the parents exceeding the cap that penalise the children.

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  19. david (2,194 comments) says:

    Ed Snack 12:26 Unfortunately though it is a case of the perception being the reality regardless of the truth. Those who have spoken out about the truth have been shouted down and made into the equivalent of “deniers” by those who captured the language. I suspect the sniff of some compensation led to the embellishment of tales of woe as well.

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  20. Kea (13,571 comments) says:

    Ed Snack (930) Says:

    May 14th, 2013 at 12:26 pm
    The Australian “Stolen Generation” is a myth, promoted for racist and political reasons. With very rare exceptions the children were removed because of endemic child abuse, where non-full blooded aboriginal children were particularly targeted.

    The child abuse by aboriginals against their children is not historic. The majority are sexually and physically abused. It is NOT the exception it is the rule.

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  21. Left Right and Centre (3,014 comments) says:

    sifty 11:16 am Every word of that comment is perfectly placed. A joy to read.

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