Email I just sent to my MP using https://www.writetothem.com/
I am writing to ask if you would be able to speak to clause 15 on my behalf at the Second Reading of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill next Tuesday July 21st.
You’ll be aware that the usual reason why I get in touch is to do with home education, and this is no exception.
A lot of home educators have contacted me through my blog and website and also through social media telling me of their fear that they will be prevented from home educating once the proposed changes in clause 15 come into effect.
Clause 15 is Universal Credit: work-related requirements.
Under clause 15, parents will have to attend courses from when their youngest child is aged 1 and once their child reaches age 3 they will have to prove to the JobCentre that they are spending a great deal of time each week applying for jobs. If they are deemed to fall short of any of these requirements, money will be stopped from their benefits.
(There are additional fears about the effects of the lowered cut-off for Tax Credits and the higher taper, but these don’t seem to be mentioned in the Bill so I don’t know whether they would fall within the scope of a Second Reading debate)
Obviously, all low-income families will be affected by the reductions to Tax Credits etc outlined in clauses 9-12 and I expect you will already be receiving a lot of correspondence about this.
However, it is clause 15 which will make home education virtually impossible for low income families.
Clause 15 has 2 parts.
15 Universal credit: work-related requirements
(1) In Chapter 2 of Part 1 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (claimant responsibilities)—
(a) in section 20(1)(a) (claimants subject to work-focused interview requirement only), for the words from “at least 1” to “3)” substitute “1”;
(b) in section 21(1) (claimants subject to work preparation requirement) after paragraph (a) (but before the “or” immediately after it) insert—
“(aa) the claimant is the responsible carer for a child who is
(c) omit section 21(5) (claimants of prescribed description to include responsible carers of children aged 3 or 4).
(2) In the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 (S.I. 2013/376)—
(a) in regulation 91 (claimants subject to work-focused interview
requirement only), omit paragraph (1);
(b) regulation 91A (claimants subject to work preparation requirement) is
The first part affects parents of children between 1 and 3.
Under the new rules as soon as a child reaches age 1, parents of low-income households claiming an in-work or out-of-work subsidy – including lone parents and parents of children with special needs and disabilities – will have to comply with ‘a work preparation requirement’ (also known as ‘work related activity’)
Claimants in the work preparation/work related activity group can’t be made to apply for jobs, but if they fail to carry out the work related activity they can be sanctioned by the Jobcentre and lose a proportion of their benefits. The requirements – which are at the discretion of the JobCentre – are written down in an Action Plan which the claimant signs as a condition of receiving benefit and may include attending courses, doing voluntary work, or undertaking other mandatory work-related activity. The parent has to negotiate with the JobCentre as to what is an acceptable amount of time to spend on work preparation.
At the moment this does not kick in until the child reaches age 3, as Child Poverty Action Group explains here
The second element of clause 15 affects parents of children over the age of 3.
At present, parents of children between 3 and 5 are subject to a work preparation requirement (ie the same work preparation requirement which it is now being proposed to apply to parents of 1 year olds)
This arises from the Welfare Reform Act 2012 section 20 and section 21 as modified by Regulation 91A which applies to Income Support and Universal Credit.
Under the new rules regulation 91A is revoked.
The effect of this is that instead of a ‘work preparation requirement’ when the youngest child is 3, the claimant will be required actively to look for work, because the same conditions will apply as currently apply to parents whose youngest child is 5.
In other words, as soon as a child reaches age 3, parents of low-income households claiming an in-work or out-of-work subsidy – including lone parents and parents of children with special needs and disabilities – will have to comply with ‘all work requirements’ which means that they will have to demonstrate to the JobCentre that they are actively seeking, and are available for, work.
There is no specific commencement date for clause 15 so it defaults to ‘such day or days as the
Secretary of State may by regulations appoint.’
In his Budget speech, the Chancellor said that requiring parents of 3 year olds to apply for jobs would take effect from September 2017 when the Government would be introducing up to 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds (via the Childcare Bill http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/childcare.html)
It is worth noting that the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has recently ripped into the Childcare Bill which began in the House of Lords and is now awaiting a date for Report. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldselect/lddelreg/12/12.pdf
My concern is that parents will be told by JobCentre staff that the younger children will have to go into nursery while the older children will have to go into school.
Welfare Reform and Work Bill
Child Poverty Action Group Work Related Activity Lone Parents
Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee criticm of the Childcare Bill
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