Cat Smith MP column: Under the Conservatives' cuts, it's the women - as usual - who get a raw deal
On Sunday, I was lucky enough to celebrate my first Mother’s Day with my little boy. I had a lovely day, and I hope all the mums in Fleetwood did too. One of my biggest concerns at the moment, though, is the high number of single mothers who are being hit by the benefit freeze.
New analysis by the House of Commons library, commissioned by Labour, has revealed nearly two million single mothers are affected by the Government’s benefit freeze, meaning a lone parent who is not in employment is around £900 a year worse off – and a parent with two children is over £1,200 a year worse off.
It was in 2016 that the Conservatives froze most working age benefits for four years, including Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit.
There are 1,650,300 lone-parent families on tax credits in the UK (December 2018), of whom 1,558,400 (94 per cent) are single mothers. As with so many other areas of life, it is women who get a raw deal.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said the benefit freeze is the “single biggest policy driver behind rising poverty in the UK”.
The Government’s own statistics, published by the Department for Work and Pensions on February 28, showed that 14 million people are in relative poverty after housing costs, and 4.1 million children are in relative poverty (after housing costs). I’ve once again called on the Government to end the freeze and to end the poverty that thousands of children experience every day.
Anyone living in Fleetwood will be aware of the dreadful state of the Dock Road. I’ve lost count of the numbers of letters I’ve written to Lancashire County Council Highways Department asking for improvements across the constituency. Last week, I once again wrote to the Head of Highways asking his department to take immediate action.
This week I was sent a petition by residents in Knott End raising concerns about the numbers of holidaymakers in caravans and motorhomes parking in the lay-bys on the Esplanade.
Residents say the holidaymakers often park there for days at a time, preventing local residents from using the parking facilities to access local services. Constituents have contacted Lancashire County Council before, but feel they did not receive an adequate response. I have now written on their behalf asking the highways department to look into this matter before the summer season gets underway.
This month on my website I’m delighted to be supporting the work of the National Autistic Society (NAS).
As an officer of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, I know how important the work of the NAS is. This condition is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.
The NAS is the UK’s largest provider of specialist autism services. Their staff and volunteers bring passion and expertise to the lives of 100,000 autistic people every year. This week, the society marks World Autism Awareness Week, when people highlight the work of autism charities as well as raise cash to ensure their vital work continues. If you’d like to find out more visit www.autism.org.uk.
Some of the most talented people in the world are thought to have been on the autism spectrum, from Einstein to Mozart.
“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine,” so said Alan Turing, creator of the first computer used to break codes during the Second World War.