Under his plan, if mothers with working partners want to claim Universal Credit, they will face the same jobseeking regime applying to single-mothers. With a few important caveats, they’ll effectively be regarded as someone claiming Jobseekers Allowance.
This is a big change. It will mean that these mums (or stay-at-home fathers) will in future have to turn up at the Jobcentre to explain how they’re planning to return to work.
Once their children are aged seven, if they don’t turn up for their “work focussed interview”, they could even have their benefit docked.
For, say, the proud wife of a postman who stays at home because it makes economic sense, turning up at the Jobcentre could be quite a unsettling experience.
What is even more peculiar is the fact that IDS will be toughening the rules and threatening sanctions, while at the same time reducing the financial incentive to work.
Around 330,000 second earners will, after these reforms, face a higher marginal deduction rate. That said, these reforms will make it easier to work fewer hours — one of many positive benefits.
But I struggle to see the advantage of extending a conditionality regime on to stay-at-home mothers in working families. This will cost money, use up the scarce time of jobcentre advisors and be unpopular in many households. What is the point? Read more