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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2008): Social security - UK

No-one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility

Department for Work and Pensions

London: TSO, 2008 (Cm7363)

This consultation on the reform of the social security system proposes that:

  • People claiming Jobseekers' Allowance for 12 months will have to do four weeks work in their neighbourhood in return for their benefits. After two years, claimants would be expected to do full-time community work.
  • Single parents will be expected to find a job when their youngest child reaches the age of seven
  • Incapacity Benefit will be scrapped by 2013. All 2.7 million recipients will undergo independent tests to determine their fitness for work. Those deemed fit for work will be switched to the new Employment and Support Allowance at the lower rate and will be given training or work experience to assist their re-entry into the labour market.
  • Private companies and voluntary sector organisations will be invited to bid for contracts to get the long-term unemployed back to work.

Unemployed are told to kick the benefits habit

C. Santry

Health Service Journal, July 31st 2008, p. 10-11

The UK government's green paper on welfare reform proposes tough measures to force the long-term sick off benefits and back to work, including those with mental health problems and those addicted to drugs and alcohol. This article considers the impact of the proposals on the NHS. There are concerns that sick people could be thrust into unsuitable jobs, that the NHS rehabilitation services will be unable to meet increased demand, and that insufficient occupational therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists are available. Mental health service provision will need to be better tailored and integrated with employment services to help people find, stay in, or return to, work.

Whitehall 'doomed to lose 1bn of benefit payments every year'

D. Hencke

The Guardian, July 8th 2008, p. 12

The Department for Work and Pensions has revealed that targets intended to minimise benefit fraud and departmental error and set by the National Audit Office are 'unattainable'. 2.7bn was lost last year through a combination of fraud and staff error. Sir Leigh Lewis of the DWP has stated that he believes it to be 'impossible' that total fraud and error costs will ever fall below the 1% mark (1.2bn).

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