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

BENEFITS AND EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES TO BE MERGED

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Mar. 17th 2000, p.6

Reports government plan to merge the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service in a clear signal of its determination to make work central to its welfare reform: The merged agency will provide "one-stop shops" for jobs and benefit claims, affecting the unemployed, lone parents, the sick and the disabled. The agency will start operating in 2001 but does not yet have a name. Decisions have yet to be made about which department will fund the agency, and whether a formal break-up of the employment and social security departments follows.

(See also Times, Mar. 17th 2000, p.8; Daily Telegraph, Mar. 17th 2000, p.10; Independent, Mar. 17th 2000, p.2; Guardian, Mar. 17th 2000, p.15)

BROWN SWITCHES CASH TO POOREST

L. Paterson

Times, March 23rd 2000, p.27

New independent analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has proved that Labour's first four Budgets have redistributed wealth from the very richest members of society to the poorest. The abolition of both mortgage interest tax relief and the married couple's allowance have made the richest 10 per cent marginally poorer. The poorest 20 per cent of society have been the main winners with the poorest 10 per cent an average 8.94 a week better off.

(See also Independent, March 23rd 2000, p.7)

A CAPITAL IDEA

D. Nissan and J. Le Grand

Fabian Society, 2000-05-09

Proposes that all citizens should receive a one-off grant of 10,000 on reaching 18. The 6.5 bn needed annually to fund the scheme would be raised by transforming the existing estate duty into an inheritance duty levied on beneficiaries of wills. The capital endowment could be used for education, training, starting a business or buying a home.

CARING ON A FULL STOMACH

M. MacLeod

Guardian Society, Mar. 15th 2000, p.7

Urges the government to invest in families to develop the human capital of the nation, starting with a simplification of the benefits system.

FLEXIBLE LABOUR MARKET NEEDS FLEXIBLE BENEFITS

B. Dhillon

Working Brief, issue 112, 2000, p. 12-13

Summarises reform proposals for the Job Seekers Allowance in the areas of sanctions, means-testing and the actively seeking work rules. In particular, the reforms would make it easier for claimants to re-enter the labour market by taking part-time 'mini' jobs.

HALF OF ALL FAMILIES WILL RECEIVE NEW STATE PAYOUTS

A. Grice

Independent, Mar. 28th 2000, p.2

Reports that the new tax credits for families and pensioners will cause the number of households on means-tested benefits to rise from 6.5 million to 13 million.

web linkHOW EFFECTIVE IS THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT'S ATTEMPT TO REDUCE CHILD POVERTY? (PDF format)

D. Piachaud and H. Sutherland

London: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics, 2000 (Case paper: 38)

Government strategy for eradicating child poverty has focused on increasing the number of families who have paid work. Finding paid work for all families with school-age children would involve a major expansion of employment by 1.5 m. Resources have been concentrated on the poor by means of greater selectivity and means-testing. However more support for the poorest, which is then rapidly withdrawn as they earn higher sums from work, serves to extend the poverty trap and discourage self-reliance. To make work pay more, government could cut income support for those not working, or increase benefits to those in low-paid work. To do this only for those on very low earnings exacerbates the poverty trap, but to extend benefits to those on slightly higher incomes increases the cost to the exchequer.

THE INFORMAL ECONOMY

Lord Grabiner

London: Treasury 2000

Report proposes measures to crack down on welfare fraud, including:

  • requiring claimants suspected of working to sign on more frequently and at unpredictable times;
  • banning people twice convicted of benefits fraud from claiming; tighter control over the issue of birth certificates to prevent the establishment of false identities;
  • routine reverse searches of the telephone directory to find names and addresses of people who advertise businesses giving only a phone number;
  • routine checks on claimants bank accounts;
  • offering extended payment of benefits to long term claimants when starting work.

JOINED-UP BENEFITS LEAVE DSS IN THE COLD

M. McHale

Public Finance, Mar. 24th-30th 2000, p.12

The future role of the Department of Social Security is in question following the planned merger of the Employment Service and the Benefits Agency in 2001.

LOW-INCOME BANDS CONTINUE TO FEEL BENEFIT OF WORKING FAMILIES' TAX CREDIT

H. Reed

Financial Times, March 22nd 2000, p.9

This years' Budget offers extra help to low-income families with children and pensioners. The main reforms are the increases of 4.35 a week in the rates of working families' tax credit, income support and housing benefit for each child under 16 in households entitled to these benefits. Single parents and unemployed couples with children gain the most from the reforms.

(See also Independent, p.3, Guardian, p.19)

LOWEST BENEFIT RISES EVER

Anon.

Labour Research, vol.89, no.4, 2000, p.19-21

The article details the new rates for state benefits such as: basic state pension, Incapacity Benefit, Child Benefit, and Working Families' Tax Credit. It concludes that while families with children will be better off, many old, sick, disabled and unemployed people face the lowest rise in benefits experienced in recent years.

ONE-STOP SHOPS ISSUE ADVICE TO JOBSEEKERS

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Apr. 3rd 2000, p.2

Reports on eight areas around Britain taking part in pilots of "One", the one-stop-shops created by combining the work of job centres with cash assistance provided by the Benefits Agency and housing benefit payments.

STEALTHY RISE IN SPENDING ON WELFARE

A. Segall

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 29th 2000, p.33

Points out that the government is masking the true rate of welfare spending by treating top-up payments to the working poor as tax credits rather than benefits, thereby artificially reducing the benefits bill.

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