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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2000): Social Security - UK

THE 1999 CHILD SUPPORT WHITE PAPER: REPLY BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE TENTH REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL SECURITY 1998/99

Department of Social Security

London: TSO, 1999 (Cm 4536)

Sets out detailed response to the 43 conclusions and recommendations set out by the Social Security Select Committee in its Report.

AGENCY IS SET UP TO TACKLE £4bn-A-YEAR BENEFIT FRAUD

A. Grice

Independent, Jan. 25th 2000, p.6

An inquiry has found that the fight against benefit fraud is being hampered by lack of co-ordination between different agencies responsible for tackling it. The review also found that, although local authorities are responsible for cracking down on housing benefit fraud, tackling serious abuse was not a priority for councils. In response to the report, ministers have announced the creation of a National Benefits Intelligence Unit.

APPROPRIATION ACCOUNTS 1997-98, CLASS XII, VOTE I (CENTRAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTERED SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS AND OTHER PAYMENTS)

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 1999 (House of Commons papers, Session 1999-2000; 103)

Report strongly criticises failure of the Benefits, Agency to tackle fraud and error in the social security system which is still costing the taxpayer more than £1.8bn a year. Notes that one in six income support awards was wrong in 1997-98, and that the Agency had squandered £5 billion on incorrect income support payments alone in the seven years since its creation. The Committee blamed the inadequacy on the Agency's computer systems. It also criticised failure to tackle specific problems such as child benefit fraud, where over half the £184 million lost annually was in claims for over-16s falsely stated to be in full-time education. Report was particularly critical of delays in dealing with appeals by disabled people against assessments made under the Benefits Integrity Project.

THE BABY TAX CREDIT

H. Harman

New Review of the Low Pay Unit, no. 60, 1999, p.9-10

Describes a scheme to allow women on low incomes to take longer maternity leave. Proposes that the government should:

  • extend the right to return to work until the baby is one;
  • back this extend maternity leave with a new baby tax credit;
  • give mothers the right to work part-time after maternity leave;
  • monitor the quality of childcare of babies under one.

BENEFITS

P. Johnson and F. Field

Economic Report - Employment Policy Institute, vol. 14, no. 6, 1999, 11p.

The government's prime objective is to shift the welfare culture from one of simply paying benefit to one of helping people back to work. However too many benefit rules continue to act as a barrier to work. Although the government's emphasis is on establishing the ONE reform (the Single Work Focused Gateway), the report argues that there should be an equal emphasis on a Single Exit from benefit. Report outlines a practical reform agenda consisting of 20 individual changes to the benefit system that would increase incentives to work, tackle benefit fraud, and help ensure that people stay in work having moved off benefit.

CHILD PAYMENTS 'MUST BE SEEN AS TAX ON FATHERING'

A. Frean

Times, Jan. 4th 2000, p.8

Government aims to turn child support payments by non-resident parents into a statutory tax on fatherhood rather than a voluntary contribution.

COMPUTER HITCH DELAYS REFORM OF CHILD PAYMENTS

P. Webster

Times, Jan. 10th 2000, p.10

Ministers have admitted that the Child Support Agency's new computer system, responsible for handling a simplified formula for calculating maintenance payments, will be introduced two years behind schedule in 2003.

DSS CASH CARROT TO MEET NEW ANTI-FRAUD TARGETS

H. Jameson

Municipal Journal, Jan. 21st-27th 2000, p.6

Councils are to get extra cash for successfully prosecuting benefits fraudsters and for achieving anti-fraud targets under a new deal launched by the Dept. of Social Security.

DSS TO SIMPLIFY BENEFITS CLAIMS PROCESS

K. Bennett

Financial Times, Jan. 4th 2000, p.2

The Department of Social Security is drawing up plans to computerise the applications procedure for benefits and pensions in an attempt to simplify the unwieldy claims process. Modernisation of the applications procedure will hopefully be accompanied by improvements in the provision of information to claimants via a new "DSS Direct" service to be ran along the lines of NHS Direct.

FIGHTING FRAUD: AN EVALUATION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD STRATEGY

G. McKeever

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, vol. 21, 1999, p.357-371

Article examines public reaction to benefit fraud, and points out that the public have differentiated fraud on the basis of 'greed' or 'need'. Addressing the primary motivations for individual social security fraud may be the only realistic possibility for reducing it. Once these issues are addressed, the rationale for many forms of individual fraud will be eliminated. Fraud should then cease to be pardonable in the eyes of many who now excuse it, and a very persuasive informal sanction against fraud will replace the current antipathy towards the government's anti-fraud measures.

LABOUR BUDGETS BENEFIT LOW EARNERS

E. Crooks

Financial Times, Jan. 28th 2000, p.2

Analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows that cuts in the basis rate of income tax, reforms to national insurance contributions and tax credits aimed at low income families has redistributed wealth to poorer households.

MINISTER OFFERS £5M WELFARE CONCESSION

M. White

Guardian, Jan. 11th 2000, p.11

52,000 disabled people will receive extra money when they go into hospital for respite care. The Social Security minister, Hugh Bayley, announced that disabled people will be eligible for their daily allowances for the day they leave the hospital. In addition, people who live in local authority residential homes and pay the costs out of their own resources will become entitled to receive disability living allowance or the attendance allowance.

PLAN TO PAY MOTHERS TO LOOK AFTER OWN CHILDREN

C. Norton

Independent, Jan. 18th 2000, p.6

Reports that the new Childcare Commission will consider the feasibility of paying relatives, including mothers, to look after children.

POST OFFICE COUNTS THE COST OF BENEFITS

C. Buckley

Times, Jan. 5th 2000, p.29

The government's decision to switch benefits payments to automated credit transfer (Act) to bank accounts in a two-year move starting in 2003 will mean a massive drop in business for Post Offices.

SAVINGS LIMITS FOR BENEFITS MAY BE RAISED

N. Timmins

Financial Times. Jan. 25th 2000, p.4

Reports government plans to increase the amounts people can save while still claiming means - tested benefits. The so-called capital limits may be trebled or more for pensioners claiming the minimum income guarantee (the new name for income support for pensioners). Rises are also planned for the amounts that can be claimed towards the cost of nursing and residential homes.

THE WELFARE REFORM AND PENSIONS ACT 1999

L. Reith

Disability Rights Bulletin, Winter 1999, p.8-9

Reports on the provisions of the Act as they relate to disabled people, including the abolition of Severe Disablement Allowance, Incapacity Benefit contribution conditions, means testing of Incapacity Benefit, and the Disability Living Allowance for children.

WINTER FUEL RULING WILL COST AN EXTRA £400M

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Dec. 17th 1999, p.2

The government will have to pay out up to an extra £400m in winter fuel payments over the current parliament after the European Court of Justice has ruled that giving the £100 payment to women at 60 but to men at 65 is unlawful sex discrimination.

(See also Times, Dec. 17th 1999, p.1 & 2; Daily Telegraph, Dec. 17th 1999, p.6)

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