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Cutting benefits for part-time workers

(33 Posts)
Doodledog Thu 22-Sep-22 11:57:16

It is expected that Kwasi Kwarteng is to announce new measures to stop people from working part-time and having their 'wages' made up from benefits.

Apparently this is to encourage the over-50s, who make up a significant part of the part-time workforce, back to work; but will be applied to people of all ages.

I'm not sure what I think. Part of me feels that at a certain age people should perhaps be able to draw a half pension and work part-time to top it up if they wish. A lot of older people find physical work difficult, and there are those who would love to help out by looking after grandchildren, but can't afford to give up work. I'm sure that there are younger people who would also relish the thought of working part-time, but can't afford to take the cut in wages.

On the other hand, I don't see why wages should be made up by benefits, so that some can choose to work part-time whilst others have to work full-time in order to subsidise them. My friend's daughter, for instance, works part-time, and says that it's not worth working extra hours when offered them, as her benefits would be affected. I think that it sounds very entitled, and see no reason why she should get paid for hours she isn't working. She is in her 30's, able bodied and has a degree. If people can only get part-time work as there is no f/t jobs available, or are only able to work part-time because of health conditions, it's different, of course.

Also, the current situation allows employers the opportunity to use benefit top-ups to keep people on p/t hours. This means that they don't have to pay their NI contributions, with all the associated problems for the employee that that brings in later life, and that can't be right either. Maybe if people didn't get the top-ups they would refuse part-time roles and take up ones that let them pay a 'stamp' that entitles them to pensions and sick pay.

I can't decide what I think - do you think that this is a good idea?

Link to The Guardian story - other papers are available

Grandmabatty Thu 22-Sep-22 12:03:56

I think this will mainly hit women who have caring responsibilities. I retired at 60 from teaching and worked four days a week. I was exhausted. I now look after grandchildren two days a week and survive off a small occupational pension as I'm too young for my state pension. I have no intention of returning to teaching.

Doodledog Thu 22-Sep-22 12:08:06

I think that it's people like you who he's aiming at, but those who claim benefits rather than living on a pension. Apparently Covid made a lot of older people realise that they could survive on less money than they thought, simply by not spending on commuting, work clothes, lunches etc, and they (we) are giving up work or going part-time.

I can completely understand their point of view, but am not sure that paying benefits to do it is fair to other workers who don't have this option.

Doodledog Thu 22-Sep-22 12:49:11

I also gave up working long before pension age. I don't claim benefits, but am managing on a small pension until my SPA. My job was stressful, but not physically demanding. I can well understand how people doing heavy lifting or long hours on their feet might need (rather than want) to cut their hours. The difficult bit is whether the benefit system should enable this or not, and I just don't know.

womblekelly Thu 22-Sep-22 12:50:57

Tbh I am very glad I made the decision to work part time and then retire early ... husband was 8 years older than me and passed away suddenly on Sat. The only benefit we received was his state pension. It has meant we have had quality time together whic I very much cherush.

Casdon Thu 22-Sep-22 12:53:34

Doodledog

I think that it's people like you who he's aiming at, but those who claim benefits rather than living on a pension. Apparently Covid made a lot of older people realise that they could survive on less money than they thought, simply by not spending on commuting, work clothes, lunches etc, and they (we) are giving up work or going part-time.

I can completely understand their point of view, but am not sure that paying benefits to do it is fair to other workers who don't have this option.

I presume it’s also single and cash strapped families with young children who want to work but fit what they do around school/nursery hours, and will be forcing them back into full time work.

VB000 Thu 22-Sep-22 12:54:19

womblekelly

Tbh I am very glad I made the decision to work part time and then retire early ... husband was 8 years older than me and passed away suddenly on Sat. The only benefit we received was his state pension. It has meant we have had quality time together whic I very much cherush.

Sad news Womblekelly, so sorry

Ilovecheese Thu 22-Sep-22 12:56:39

What the Government will save on giving a bit of a top up to part time workers, they ought to be prepared to cover the extra expense that will result from the lack of care giving (currently being done by part time workers). They may find that this is yet another of their I'll thought out, false economies that their ideology leads them to make.

MissAdventure Thu 22-Sep-22 13:00:01

I wasn't given the choice after my daughter died.

The job coach decided what hours I could do, and that I could manage a 90 minute commute each way, and I was expected to still be applying for more hours.

Maudi Thu 22-Sep-22 13:01:10

12:50womblekelly

Tbh I am very glad I made the decision to work part time and then retire early ... husband was 8 years older than me and passed away suddenly on Sat. The only benefit we received was his state pension. It has meant we have had quality time together whic I very much cherush.

How sad for you womblekelly at least you managed to spend some quality time together a good decision to retire early 💐 Sorry for your loss.

Maya1 Thu 22-Sep-22 13:01:22

So sorry womblekelly to hear the sad news about your husband. Time spent together is much more important.
I too took early retirement nearly 2 years ago, l am now 64. I have two small pensions.
My dh had to take early retirement due ill health.He has never
received benefits. He did try after his double transplant eleven years, as he was able to pick up an empty cardboard box, he was refused.
I'm in two minds if you should receive benefits and work p/t. There are genuine cases where it is necessary. Single parents, no child care etc.

Pumpkinpie Thu 22-Sep-22 13:03:45

Another short sighted policy. Isn’t it better to have people working albeit part time than not at all. Not everyone can physically and mentally work part time, especially if you're disabled.
This government has no capacity for forward thinking .

MissAdventure Thu 22-Sep-22 13:05:43

I don't see how it is feasible to make a rule without exceptions, and then will it lead to people needing to be assessed, to confirm their reasons are genuine?

I do think the drawing down of pension is a good idea, in theory, at least.

growstuff Thu 22-Sep-22 13:07:13

I became aware of this after I'd made some comments on another thread on GN, so looked up the actual details. The Guardian article hasn't got it quite right right.

This announcement from the DWP explains it better:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/numbers-moved-to-universal-credits-intensive-work-search-regime-because-of-the-increase-in-the-administrative-earnings-threshold/numbers-moved-to-universal-credits-intensive-work-search-regime-because-of-the-increase-in-the-administrative-earnings-threshold

Currently, those earning £355 from paid work can claim Universal Credit, but don't have to attend regular meetings with a work coach. It depends on their circumstances, but they probably don't receive any benefits either. They register, so that they can receive credits towards pension entitlement.

The government is now increasing what's known as the Administrative Earnings Threshold. That means that people will have to earn more before they become eligible for the Light Touch interview regime. If they don't reach the threshold, they'll have to attend full DWP work interviews. Crucially, the amount they receive in benefits won't be affected, so if they received nothing, they'll still receive nothing.

That means that some people will receive nothing (except pension entitlement) but will have to attend DWP interviews every week or fortnight. Inevitably, some people will think it's not worth the hassle, so will "sign off". That will improve the unemployment statistics, but mean that people will miss out on pensions in the future.

Hope that makes sense!

growstuff Thu 22-Sep-22 13:11:00

PS. Should have written "£355 a month". These are people who are earning too much to be paid benefits, but not enough to have to pay National Insurance Contributions.

MissAdventure Thu 22-Sep-22 13:11:54

They're just going to make sure you know they're onto you if you aren't quite playing ball?

icanhandthemback Thu 22-Sep-22 13:13:28

My condolences, womblekelly. flowers

My husband retired early because his Dad died aged 62 and my Mum's husband was 64 so he wanted to ensure that if he was going to go early, he wanted some downtime first! He receives his State Pension this year and I am hoping for him to receive it for many years yet.

I have always thought it was a clumsy system for people to have their wages topped up from benefits which takes a lot of admin. However, unless the companies paying the wages increase them considerably (which will put up prices thus needing higher wages ad infinitum) I don't know what the answer is. On the other hand, if you allow people to work and earn wages part time to top up their benefits, they are gaining experience for when they stop being full time parents and have to go out to work. It is a conundrum!

growstuff Thu 22-Sep-22 13:30:42

MissAdventure

They're just going to make sure you know they're onto you if you aren't quite playing ball?

No, not at all!

This has all been misinterpreted.

The people who will be affected are those in low-paying zero contract jobs.

Currently, people can sign on as unemployed if they don't expect to receive regular pay. They have to declare their monthly earnings. More often or not, they receive too much a month to receive any benefits, but they don't earn enough to pay National Insurance. Signing on means that they are credited for state pension purposes. The receive no other benefit. They only have to attend two meetings with work coaches.

The threshold has been raised, which means that people will have to look for more hours/higher pay to remain eligible for the same Light Touch regime. Otherwise, they have to attend work coach meetings, which could be a disincentive.

Those are the facts. I've seen all sorts of comments on social media, but I'm afraid many of them are based on a misunderstanding of what is actually happening.

growstuff Thu 22-Sep-22 13:32:35

icanhandthemback The people affected won't have any benefits affected. Most of them aren't eligible to receive benefits anyway! All that is affected is what's known as the "conditionality" - a few people will have to go to more meetings with work coaches from the DWP.

growstuff Thu 22-Sep-22 13:34:02

Those who have familiarity with the current Universal Credit system know that the old idea of having low paid work topped up with benefits hardly exists any more.

Pumpkinpie Thu 22-Sep-22 13:36:20

I don’t think it’s that much of an misinterpretation . The Government once again are going to make the system more bureaucratic & inflexible . Completely ignoring the needs of vulnerable people.
When will they tax the rich , tax evaders, CEOs, Energy companies with the same vigorous scrutiny ?

Blossoming Thu 22-Sep-22 13:45:25

Thank you for that clarification Growstuff

icanhandthemback Thu 22-Sep-22 14:45:13

growstuff

icanhandthemback The people affected won't have any benefits affected. Most of them aren't eligible to receive benefits anyway! All that is affected is what's known as the "conditionality" - a few people will have to go to more meetings with work coaches from the DWP.

Sorry, must have misunderstood. Trying to deal with a Government Department whilst reading GN...never a good idea!!!

growstuff Thu 22-Sep-22 16:26:46

Pumpkinpie

I don’t think it’s that much of an misinterpretation . The Government once again are going to make the system more bureaucratic & inflexible . Completely ignoring the needs of vulnerable people.
When will they tax the rich , tax evaders, CEOs, Energy companies with the same vigorous scrutiny ?

I disagree. I've seen people on social media and even on GN claiming all sorts of things about this change.

The only difference is that people earning between £355 and £494 a month will have to:

either

a) Find a job paying more money

or

b) Attend regular DWP work coach meetings.

Doodledog Thu 22-Sep-22 17:04:12

So why is this being reported as aimed at older people who left work during Covid and don't want to return? It was discussed in those terms on Jeremy Vine (I know he's a pain, but the programme is usually well-researched), the Guardian reported it in those terms, and it was mentioned on R4 (Moneybox? can't remember) framed in the same way.

I'm not saying you are wrong - I know very little about it - just that it seems odd that there is such a widespread and similar view from financial reporters.