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

Families may get 150 for fuel

R. Winnett

Daily Telegraph, Aug.11th 2008, p. 4

Reports that the government is considering making one-off payments of 150.00 to all families claiming child benefit to help them with rising energy costs. More than seven million families would qualify for the payments, which would cost more than 1bn.

Fear pensioners will miss out

Anon.

Financial Times, Aug. 21st 2008, p. 2

It is feared that changes to the rules on claiming pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit - which will mean people can only claim up to 3 months' backdated benefit instead of up to 12 months' worth - which take effect from 6 October, could mean thousands of pensioners will lose out.

Jobless claimants rise at fastest rate for 16 years

A. Taylor

Financial Times, Aug. 14th 2008. p.2

Sixty thousand more people are out of work and claiming unemployment benefit according to latest monthly figures for July, the biggest monthly increase in 16 years.

Progress in tackling benefit fraud

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08; HC323)

The Committee examined the Department for Work and Pensions on progress in tackling fraud, making the best use of available resources and powers, and their effectiveness in tackling different types of fraud. The Department has a well-defined strategy for targeting benefits fraudsters. It estimates that fraud fell from 2bn in 2001/02 to 800m in 2006/07 and now accounts for only 0.6% of benefits expenditure. However it needs to do more to reverse a rise in official and customer error, which increased from 1bn in 2001/02 to 1.9bn in 2006/07. The Department believes that benefit complexity is a major cause of error.

Purnell orders review into sanctions in benefits system

P. Wintour

The Guardian, Aug. 7th 2008, p. 15

The pensions secretary, James Purnell, has ordered a review - to start this week - into the conditions attached to the receipt of benefits by lone parents, the unemployed and the disabled.

Route to work or benefit cut?

N. Bateman

Community Care, July 24th 2008, p. 24-25

This article introduces the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a new benefit to be launched in October 2008. The ESA will be given to anyone making a new claim for benefit because of limited capability for work caused by ill-health or disability. For the first 13 weeks of a claim, people will receive a basic rate of ESA which will be the same as Jobseekers' Allowance. They will then have a work-focused interview and a work capability assessment (WCA). If they score above a particular threshold they will move onto a higher rate of ESA. If they don't, their ESA will be stopped, with right of appeal to a tribunal.

Why childcare must be shared

Anon

Labour Research, Aug. 2008, p. 15-16

In the UK, fathers work long hours in full time jobs, while mothers work part-time in low-paid, low-skilled jobs and do most of the childcare. Further reform is needed to encourage fathers to become more involved. This could include making paternity pay earnings linked so that more fathers would take it up. Rights to request flexible working could also be extended to all employees, so that it is seen as the norm. The long working hours culture also needs to be tackled through improvements to the Working Time Regulations.

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