I heard about MAHM as I was a member previously for several years and decided to re-join last week as I am very concerned about the government’s proposals to change the benefits/tax credits system as this will affect many low income and vulnerable families. I am a single mother and I have three children aged 18, 8 and 5.
The two issues that concern me the most are the lowering of the age at which parents (mainly mothers I imagine) will be made to leave their children to look for work. While some children may thrive in 30 hours of paid childcare I do not feel that this is appropriate for a lot of children. Making mothers go out to paid work and use this form of care is taking away the right of a family to decide what is the best type of care for their young children. It is also taking away the rights of the child to be cared for by a family member and have their needs met. Some children will be very traumatized by this forced separation at such a young age. I feel strongly that this is not in the best interests of children and families but more about having both parents working and paying taxes for as many hours as possible when their children are little.
I also feel that after the age is brought down to 3 (when both parents will be required to work in order to claim certain benefits) it won’t be long before that age is brought down even further, probably to 12 months. I have already had this said to me by jobcentre so I am pretty sure that it will happen. The government wouldn’t do that now as there would be such an outcry but once it is lowered to 3 after a few years they think that everyone will be used to it by then, so they can lower it even further. In their mind this is appropriate as it is the age at which most women will return to work after taking maternity leave.
The second issue is the stopping of child tax credits after the first two children. This is essentially a two child policy for everyone apart from the rich. It is inevitable that some families will have more than two children after April 2017 when the proposals will come into force. Relationships end and new ones begin, contraception fails, families have two children of the same gender and long for a third of the opposite, people have grown up with several siblings themselves and want their own children to have the same experience etc.
So what will happen in the case of a family having more than two children who are really struggling to meet the basic needs of some of their children such as adequate food and clothing? Will those families be forced to put some of the children into the care system or have them taken into care?
It costs the government huge amounts of money to keep a child in care, far much than it would be fund these families through tax credits. And that’s not even taking into account the emotional cost and trauma to these children and families. I wonder if the government have thought of this and if so what kind of safety net are they putting in place to protect these children who may find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own.
I really feel that these changes will mean a massive backwards step for our society and no one will benefit from them in the longer term.
16th July 2015
Concerned about government policies for families and children