Child Poverty Action Group set up the Early Warning System in 2013 to gather case evidence about the impact of welfare reforms on children, their families and the communities that support them. Case evidence is collected from frontline workers such as welfare rights workers and CAB advisers who have direct contact with families and through monitoring queries to our advice line on benefits and tax credits for frontline advisers and support staff.
The case evidence is collated and analysed to identify emerging issues and trends as a result of changes to the benefit system. (94)
The evidence gathered by the Early Warning System is used to promote policy and practical changes to:
- Reduce child poverty
- Respond to the impacts of rising child poverty resulting from cuts to the benefit system
- Improve the delivery of the benefit system
When the Early Warning System started, universal credit was just being introduced. Since then there has been the introduction of the benefit cap, the two-child limit, freezes in the level of benefits paid to families and the introduction of devolved benefits and the creation of Social Security Scotland.
Our evidence informs:
- Reponses to government and parliamentary consultations at UK and Scottish level
- Our ongoing relationships with Department of Work and Pensions and Social Security Scotland about how delivery of benefits can be improved
- Our input to Scottish Government about the creation and delivery of financial support for children and their families
We also use our evidence to inform other policy areas where there is an interaction with social security, for example paying for housing costs or childcare. (169)
One of the needs identified by our evidence is the need for better financial support to allow women to escape domestic abuse. Failings in the social security system mean that people escaping domestic abuse are not guaranteed to have the financial means to survive. This can also jeopardise their having a safe place to go and can result in people returning to their abusive partners.
Our evidence highlights:
- Women claiming benefits in a couple are unable to make a new claim for benefit as a single person without alerting their partner
- No financial support for deposits or rent in advance
- The 5 week wait for the first payment of universal credit
- The two-child limit and benefit cap being applied to universal credit
- Child benefit claims taking months to be transferred from one partner to another if there is a dispute about who should receive it.
- Women being refused or having to wait for grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund
In response to this evidence we started working with Women’s Aid and Engender last year to develop a call for a fund or payment to support women to prepare, escape and establish themselves following domestic abuse. (195)
You can read more about our Early Warning System evidence on the CPAG in Scotland website. If you would like to discuss any of the findings, please contact Kirsty McKechnie – project manager of the Early Warning System in Scotland.
We are always looking to hear from those affected by changes to the social security system. If you’re an adviser working with people who have been affected, and have any case studies highlighting the impact of interaction with social security on children and their families, please submit them through the form below or by emailing Kirsty.
If you want to tell us about your own experiences of the social security system, please tell us using the form in the link above.