The Benefit System

Caps on Benefits

Caps on Benefits

Changes In Maternity Pay

The government has stated that being capped at one per cent, benefit payments including maternity pay will not rise in line with inflation.  The Conservative Party has claimed that this cap will motivate benefit claimants to return to work. They claim that it is unfair for benefit claimants to receive a greater rise than those individuals who work. They also argue that this move will act as an incentive for people to find work, saying;

it was about restructuring the culture so “people find work always pays”.

History of Maternity Benefit
This Benefit has its origin in the National Insurance Act of 1941. However,  it remained patchy throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, varying from company to company. New Labour extended the cover to eighteen weeks paid leave. This was in turn extended to 20 weeks by the European Parliament. From 2006 the Work and Family Act extended statuary maternity leave to six months and normal maternity leave to nine months. In addition, adoptive parents receive the same level of pay (see guardian).

Positive effects of benefit and the negative effects of its loss
It has been shown that, both the mother and child benefit from having this time together. Several  reports, including,  that this time has a beneficial on child mortality and health.

It is therefore not surprising that Maternity Action, an organisation devoted to the rights of pregnant women, has bemoaned the changes within the benefit system.   They argue that this is part of a bigger discriminatory action against pregnant women.  Pregnant woman’s income will be cut by £911.87. This will mean that women will be forced to return to work before they are ready.

The Labour party’s shadow minister for women Yvette Cooper has added her voice to the critique that, saying that “this will hit families and mothers”. What do you think is this tax unfair to mothers or is it a necessary measure to make work more desirable.

By Victoria Richards

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