Cuts. What I, as a voter expect.

June 25, 2010

When a government is deciding to make massive cuts to budgets which deal with issues of social policy, I expect that they use evidence to prioritise those cuts.

The research and figures which are available.

When deciding to cut housing benefit, I have a right to know the impact on people, and that means an assessment of their living costs, as well as net state support(unlike the recent investigation into the ‘couples penalty’ by the Institute of Fiscal Studies). House prices, rental prices, and childcare.

I would like an assessment of the relative earnings potential of women with young children, with comparisons made across all social spectrums. I want that figure compared with the cost of living. If one full time salary cannot maintain basic housing costs,  is a salary slashed by caring responsibilities and the cost of childcare likely to?

I want to know what the impact is of removing the state support which allows single women with children to continue to function in the labour market and housing market- has this been measured into prospective unemployment figures? THe projections for homelessness? Child poverty figure? Has this been factored into the housing crisis, that has been well documented for the last decade? The housing crisis, which was caused by the same overvaluation of our housing market, that underpinned aspects of the credit crunch.

If you are going to cut housing benefit at a level which pushes voters using housing benefit to work, out of the labour market, and out of their communities- I think this is the least that could be expected.

I would quite like to know which employers drain the most from our economy with poor wages and crap conditions subsidised by tax credits, and housing benefit- and would like someone to address how we make companies play their part in making this up.

If this analysis brings up the overrepresentation of women who are concentrated in the bottom two levels of our public services, because it is flexible enough to balance with childcare- then that needs to be looked at.

If you are going to remove state support which enables working people to meet basic living costs, you know that a single average income isn’t enough to pay for a household, you know that with a child, a sole carer is very unlikely to earn that average sole income, you are going to cut the support they can expect to meet basic living costs, and take away the job most likely to employ them- then you have to say that is what you are doing.

Its ok, its a recession, people will understand. People can discuss it and debate it.

You do not get to cite deeply flawed research by Right Wing Think Tanks like the Centre for Social Justice, which contradicts the entire body of social research, equality, and evidence about poverty, and says marriage itself should be seen as a route women take out of poverty. You certainly don’t get to describe one of the things that demonstrably keeps women IN work, as a benefit trap-with no evidence. The trap is poverty, not housing benefit. As the high numbers of employed housing benefit claimants shows. 7 out of 8 in London.

If the ideaological aim is to encourage marriage= then I encourage the government to read research which shows them the effects. In the meantime I am slightly worried that these cuts are designed to tell me the route out of poverty for working single parents is now getting a bloke to marry them.

And that is before Frank Field does his work, to eliminate couples penalty. I am worried that this is being done on the basis of some of the most bizarre ‘research’ I have ever read.

If you are going to eject women from the labour market, from the communities they live, and in doing so,  remove any ladder  out of the situation, and you know that those women are already substantially disadvantaged in that labour market= then you don’t get to justify it by blaming those women.

You don’t get to perpetuate images of scroungers, and sluts, breeding irresponsibly,  in lieu of facts and figures. This does not justify removing every route out of poverty to women who are there, solely because of a romantic relationship and motherhood. And if that is the effect of the LHA cut, and the public service cuts, regardless of  intention-that has to be addressed.

I am an adult, and before the government assumes I am not morally competent to decide about my romantic relationships, I want evidence from someone who isn’t a raving nutjob who thinks homosexuality is demonic posession, or thinks visiting a council estate is a substitute for knowledge.

I would also like clarification on why if an employer puts in place systems, which make my gender the basis for indirect discrimination,I have a legal basis for challenge.

Do I not get to challenge a bill which disproportionately affects women, because they have responsibility for children- and that make a romantic and presumably sexual relationship the most effective route out of poverty? Do I not get to challenge that?

Still, the state is doing a damn good job of making sure women know that they are financially dependent on their men, and what happens to women who leave. Am sure that will do our domestic violence figures the world of good. Roll on the spending review!

If a single parent has her children with her, she is by definition doing the ‘right’ thing by looking after them,  and if she is working, I fail to see what is to be discouraged. If the ‘right thing’ you are talking about encouraging is marriage- then I can assure you I will not be entering into any relationship, in return for financial security, and I hope that is a dilemma I never face.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Theodor Adorno and Nadine Dorries, Lisa. Lisa said: @anthonypainter https://deeplyflawedbuttrying.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/cuts-what-i-as-a-voter-expect/ What I as a voter expect from cuts. […]

  2. An eloquent piece articulating many of the fears single parents have at the moment.

    To be honest, I think a £400 a week cap is okay, £1500 a month can get you a 4-bed house in North London (and a veritable mansion in some areas), no, you probably can’t live in Chelsea, but I’m not sure the safety net government is there to provide should extend to living in Chelsea.

    It’s the public service cuts that scare me the most. Local councils are generally among the best employers for single parents, allowing flexi-time, providing many part time jobs, and generally being open to the idea of single parent workers. Many employers aren’t due to our inbuilt inflexibility.

    As an unemployed single dad who has been studying to become an accountant for the last 3 years (had to give up my career in pub/restaurant management when I became a single dad) the immediate future scares me. There’s already precious few jobs out there, and an awful lot of people looking for work… I am all for working, I would love to be paying my own rent and not relying on the state, Jesus, I can’t explain how much I would love that. Adult conversation, actually using my brain, and earning money to boot? Yes, I want it. I want it now… it’s just not there for me to have.

    I shall stop ranting in your comments section. As I said, nice piece… but please remember there’s single dads out here too with the same worries and same problems single mums face.

    • THe cap isn’t £400. That is in one place, for a hypothetical family, George Osborne has had to admit don’t exist.

      My LHA is set at the median rent for the local area. There are no houses here under £500 a month- and LHA is set at way under that. THis slashes it further. In the main people pay the difference, but the amount of income that that extra is taken out of- benefit level.

      They made a song and dance about the hypothetical family who don’t exist, and talked about it being a benefit trap- in reality it is the benefit that keeps people working. In reality half of LHA clients top up the difference between their rent and LHA out of breadline incomes- and this has nationally slashed that again.

      • Gone back to look at the budget again (I’ve clearly missed some detail first time around) The cap for a 2-bed (deemed necessary for a single parent with 1 child or 2 same-sex children)is £290 pw, so by that standard it’s DOABLE, but may well mean people have to move house away from schools etc… again punished for not having a larger family or being married. (How very dare we?)

        It’s the 30th percentile that will shaft people. Rents are quite stable around here – as in, the houses are are quite generic so rents are all around the same level. My 2 bed, mid-terrace in an *okay* (but not great) area of town is £500 a month, flats are cheaper which will lower the average, or are they treated separate to houses? The budget red book uses “properties”

        I’m rambling again, I know, not enough data! I am assuming it will be down to LHA’s to determine the new rates for various bands.

        The more I research this, the more it feels like the Tories are trying to shove us pesky lone parents back in the tower blocks where we belong.

      • Get us further away from the jobs, get the jobs filled by the newly unemployed, remove any way of improving things and tell us its cos we are not married. Great.
        Basically, to stop being skint, I need to get married, or have another child= because work isn’t going to do it. Well I have no intention of doing either.

  3. […] social research, equality, and evidence about poverty, that marriage itself should be seen …Continue var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_localize = { Share: "Share", Save: "Save", Subscribe: […]

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