Day 1 - Question #1 - PANDAS Foundation UK

Question #1

What will you do to make it possible for families to survive on one income, if, for example, the mother is too unwell to work?

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ConservativeCONSERVATIVES (The Rt Hon Grant Shapps) – 

There is a range of support available for people on low incomes, and depending on her individual circumstances it may be that the mother would be eligible for some sickness benefits.

Liberal DemocratLIBERAL DEMOCRAT (Norman Lamb) –

Lib Dems know the critical value of ensuring the welfare system is a safety net that is always there to support us when we fall on hard times. That’s why we have been clear that we will never support Tory plans to cut the welfare budget by £12 billion – plans that can only hurt those who are most in need of support. We also want to make sure that mental health support is always there for those who need it – including support to return to work for those who want to – which is why we have pledged an additional £3.5 billion to improve mental health support.

GreenGREEN PARTY (Jillian Creasy)– 
The Green Party will introduce a more generous system of paid parental leave, to help parents manage in the first years of their babies’ lives. We would expand the total amount of parental leave to 23 months, which would be shared between parents in a flexible way, paid at a minimum of 90% salary. The government would help small companies to pay for this. When it comes to long term sickness and disability, we will protect sickness pay and go back to the system where GPs and health professionals assess whether people are able to work – not contractors like ATOS – so that if people need to claim out-of-work benefits the process is fairer and less onerous. And we will make some forms of healthcare which are currently charged for, like prescriptions and dentistry, free for everyone. We will also help families financially by doubling the rate of child benefit to £40 per week for each child, recognising the costs of bringing up children. And we will immediately lift the minimum wage to a living wage of £8.10 an hour, to reach £10 an hour by 2020, and end exploitative zero-hours contracts. This will help families on low incomes and offer more income security – no one should have to live hand to mouth, or worry about suddenly finding themselves with fewer hours to work from one week to the next, and this is especially difficult for parents and for families facing illness. Finally, housing accounts for a large proportion of most people’s living costs, and at times of difficulty many people worry about whether they will be able to pay the rent or the mortgage. We will make housing more affordable by introducing longer term tenancies for renters, with rent increases capped to inflation, and introduce a ‘right to rent’ for people who can no longer afford their mortgage, allowing them to stay in their home.

TUSC (Hannah Sell) – 

We would start by placing further duties on employers to increase paid parental leave for both parents for the first year of the child’s birth. This gives parents time and space to adjust and takes stress and pressure off parents. In the first instance the mother with a diagnosis of post-natal depression must be supported to make the right decision for her as to whether or not she should return to work. If the mother with a diagnosis of post-natal depression chooses to return to work a duty should be placed on all employers to make reasonable adjustments to limit the stress on her and to ensure that her workplace environment aids her recovery and that returning to work is a positive experience for her. Research evidence shows that work or meaningful activity has a positive impact on people recovering from mental illness and that being out of work for long periods of time can be detrimental to recovery.

If the mother with post-natal depression doesn’t wish to return to work or she is deemed too ill to work she must be entitled to benefits in her own right to enable her to support herself and her child to live with dignity and these should not be means tested or linked to her partners earnings. She should automatically qualify for the full PIP payment alongside ESA and housing and council tax benefit, and an increased rate of child benefit. She can also be entitled to receive additional therapeutic services via the personalisation route. She should have her needs assessed by a qualified social worker and if necessary get a package of care put into her home to help her with washing, cleaning her home, shopping and meal preparation so that she and her baby do not suffer neglect during the acute phase of her depression.

Plaid CymruPLAID CYMRU (Heledd Brooks-Jones) – 

One of our pledges is to ensure a Living Wage for all by 2020, allowing everybody to earn enough money to live.  We would ban zero hours contracts, putting an end to job insecurity.  We would also conduct a review of the cruel benefit sanctions imposed by the current UK government, putting in place a humane and just social security system which supports those in need rather than punishing them.

SNP – SNP

We know that the austerity economics of the Westminster parties is holding back the incomes of working families and increasing in-work poverty: over half of the children in poverty in Scotland are now living in a family where at least one person is working.
 
That’s why we back an increase in the Minimum Wage to £8.70 by 2020 and support measures to extend the Living Wage across the UK. The Scottish Government already pays all its employees the Living Wage – we will call on, and vote for, the UK Government to do the same.
 
We’ll also support an increase of at least the cost of living in welfare benefits, such as child benefit, universal credit and disability benefits, and also in tax credits.

AUTHOR

Catherine Jones

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