Monday, 23 January 2012

Welfare Reform Bill

The Welfare Reform Bill is once again back in the media spotlight as amendments are being debated in the House of Lords.

The Church of Scotland has given its backing to one particular amendment, proposed by Baroness Lister, Lord Hope of Kirkwood and the Rt Rev John Packer, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds.  The amendment has the support of a large number of organisations working with children, including Action for Children in Scotland, Banardo’s Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Save the Children Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid and many others.

We want to ensure that claimants wth a dependent child or children do not face sanctions if they are unable to access work or work related activity, or to sustain work, due to a lack of appropriate childcare.  Most lone parents want to have the opportunity to combine paid work with the vital job of being a parent.  We believe, however, that the Welfare Reform Bill fails to recognise that the required childcare infrastructure is lacking in many parts of the UK – particularly before school starts and after it finishes, and during school holidays – and is insufficient to meet the demands being made upon benefit claimants.  There also continues to be a serious lack of childcare settings that are properly equipped - and have staff properly prepared to deal effectively and positively with – children having disabilities, learning/communication/behaviour challenges or a wide range of additional support needs.

We hope that this amendment will be considered today and are seeking assurances from the Government that they will think again about the impact of their current proposals.

Please keep all in the Government and House of Lords in your prayers as they continue to deliberate on these important issues.


  1. Wouldn't a Christian position regarding welfare be along the following lines?
    1. Look after those weaker members of society who are unable to fend for themselves.
    2. Scrap unemployment benefit and replace it with a new system that provides the same level of financial support for doing some kind of work for the state that's of benefit to the community? In other words, a sort of state-run minimum level guarantee of employment, rather than a benefit handout. After all, everyone can do something.

    In practice what I'm meaning (but perhaps not describing in the best way) is developing a more productive, beneficial and life enhancing system that means that claiments have to do some form of "work for the government" for a couple of days in order to earn the equivalent payment that they currently receive for effectively staying at home and "doing nothing."

    cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

    From the Christian world view, as created beings, we've been designed for work. Financially there's no downside at it would cost the same to the state, but it would make a massive positive difference to the psyche of the individuals involved, and would produce ongoing benefits for society.

  2. With our current immoral debt problem - see Lord carey's statement - it is surely incumbent, on any well meaning church led intervention, to at least suggest how the extra costs [debt] incurred could be met.
    This both gives us the opportunity to have a christian influence on the debate, and will hopefully provide a hearing for our concerns.


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