Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rules about work-testing the DPB

When parents on a benefit face work-testing as their youngest child turns five, some will attempt to avoid this eventuality by adding another baby. In recognition of this the government is introducing a rule that says the work-testing will only be waived till the subsequent child is one year-old.

It seems to me that there will still be grey areas, for instance, what if a subsequent child is born during a brief period off benefit? On re-application for a benefit does the caregiver get 5 years free from work-testing?

So in an attempt to find out what  attention had been given to this scenario I sent the following question to MSD:

In respect of the DPB welfare reforms which will introduce part-time work-testing when the youngest dependent child turns one if that child was been added to an existing benefit, has any official advice or correspondence occurred between cabinet and MSD discussing how the new rule will apply if the beneficiary has a period off benefit and returns?

The reply:

"In response to part four of your request, I refer you to recommendation six of the welfare Reform Cabinet paper, Paper C Parents on Benefit Who Have Subsequent Children"

This is what recommendation six says:

Agree that in implementing and maintaining this policy intent the Chief Executive should have discretion to consider application and, on occasion, exemption in the full range of circumstances where a subsequent child is added to a benefit dependent household.

Is that any kind of answer? Perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly.

I'm not talking about a subsequent child added to a benefit dependent household. I'm talking about a second, third, fourth child born between benefits. What rules will apply to their caregivers? Because as it stands a caregiver could have a child every five years and never reach work-testing so long as that child is not added to a benefit.

And if they could physically manage to add a baby a year to a benefit, that would also exempt them from work-testing.

These 'loopholes' demonstrate why it would be much better to have simple time-limits.

Under the regime about to be implemented I think we will see a pattern developing of repeated DPB-dependent spells in five year clusters (except it won't be DPB spells - it'll be SPS Sole Parent Support spells.)

1 comment:

thor42 said...

I agree, Lindsay.
This regime is just **asking** to be exploited.

The simpler the rule is, the more difficult it is likely to be to find a way around it.