Two proposed welfare bills that could both strongly impact on family health care were dealt major blows this week.
First a cross-party alliance in the House of Lords voted to exclude child benefit from plans to impose a £26,000 cap on household benefits, before a report by the Commons Health Select Committee said the Health and Social Care Bill is hindering "effective ways of reforming service delivery".
The latest block is the fifth significant defeat for the government on it's planned cap and Enver Solomon, policy director at the Children's Society said: "The Lords have stood up to the government and sent a clear message in support of children up and down the country. Children should not be held responsible and penalised for the employment circumstances of their parents."
It comes just days after Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was forced to insist that the cap won't increase child poverty after research from the Guardian suggested that that "it [the cap] will tip nearly every out-of-work family with more than four children below the [poverty] line".
A DWP spokesman indicated the government will continue to fight to push the Bill through, saying: "We are determined our reforms will be implemented in full and we will take this back to the House of Commons to reverse tonight's decision."
However, 4Children chief executive Anne Longfield believes it would be a mistake to pass the Bill in its current form given the level of negative feedback it has already received.
"There is a clear need for renewed scrutiny of the effects of benefit capping on a large number of families," she said.
"The Government should more carefully model and test this and other disputed measures in the Welfare Reform Bill as untested, they risk passing unfairness into law, and pushing many families into even greater difficulty in already difficult times."
There is also growing opposition to the government's planned NHS reforms as the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives are trying to convince Britain's royal medical colleges to join their campaign to block the Health Bill.
Their case was strengthened by a highly critical select committe report which suggested hospitals had been forced to resort to "short-term salami slicing" in order to achieve the required £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2015.
The RCN, RCM and British Medical Assoication will hold a summit with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges on Thursday to discuss the Bill.
Posted 24/01/2012 by firstname.lastname@example.org