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

£10 WEEKLY VOUCHERS PLAN FOR MOTHERS WHO BREAST-FEED

R. Sylvester

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 25th 2000, p. 1

Reports that low-income mothers could be given financial incentives to breast feed their babies under proposals being considered as part of the NHS review. They would be given vouchers worth about £10.00 per week to buy specified healthy foods.

BROWNED-OFF: WHAT'S WRONG WITH GORDON BROWN'S SOCIAL POLICY?

D. Willetts

London: Politeia, 2000 (Policy series; no. 19)

Means-tested benefits are paid to households whereas income tax is levied on individuals. Means-tested benefits reflect current needs whereas Income Tax is levied on annual income. Despite these fundamental differences, Gordon Brown is trying to integrate them. The result is a mish-mash of credits and tax credits calculated on different bases and interacting with each other in unpredictable ways. The system spreads means-testing further up the earnings scale, threatens the principle of independent taxation of husband and wife, is biased against one-earner couples, undermines marriage and burdens employers.

DISABLED PEOPLE DISTURBED BY BENEFITS ASSESSMENT TREATMENT

N. Valios

Community Care, no. 1319, 2000, p.6

Disabled people and those with mental health problems are left in pain and distress following medical assessments to determine their right to claim disability benefits. A report by the Commons social security committee which examines the medical service concludes that they must take urgent steps to achieve better treatment of claimants as present performance is unacceptable.

DOCTORS ARE ROUTINELY RACIST OVER BENEFITS, SAY MPs

A. Grice

Independent, Apr. 20th 2000, p. 2

Doctors who examine people claiming sickness and disability benefits are accused of "institutional racism" by an inquiry into working practices. The report by the Social Security Select Committee said insensitive doctors should receive immediate remedial training and have their performance monitored. Those failing to improve should be dismissed.

EVALUATING JOBSEEKER'S ALLOWANCE

B. Dhillon

Working Brief, issue 113, 2000, p. 14-15

Article analyses recent research published by the Department of Social Security and Employment Service on the effectiveness of the Job Seeker's Allowance in terms of promotion of jobsearch, provision of good advice and application of sanctions, and availability of the Back to Work Bonus.

FAMILIES TAX CREDIT TO BE SPLIT INTO TWO

I. Herbert

Independent, Apr. 25th 2000, p. 6

Treasury confirms that the Working Families Tax Credit will be split into two credits, the integrated children's credit and the employment tax credit if Labour wins the next general election.

FROM WELFARE TO WORK

L. Hyams

Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Care, vol. 3, 2000, p. 314

Explains the workings of the Disabled Person's Tax Credit, which is intended to make it easier for people to move from long-term sickness benefits to waged work.

THE LABOUR MARKET IMPACT OF THE WORKING FAMILIES TAX CREDIT

R. Blundell et al

Fiscal Studies, vol. 21, 2000, p. 75-104

Using the Family Resources Survey, authors estimate a model of family labour supply for married couples and individual labour supply for single parents. The model allows for childcare costs that vary with hours of work and takes into account the existence of many different types of childcare. Model is then used to simulate the labour supply effects of the Working Families' Tax Credit, assuming that the structure of the childcare market will not change. Findings show that:

  • the participation rate for single mothers increases by 2.2% (34,000 individuals);
  • the participation rate for married women with employed partners decreases by 0.57% (20,000 individuals) because of an income effect arising from the improved benefit eligibility of their husbands;
  • these behavioural effects combined with those for people with non-working partners imply a small increase in participation of about 30,000 individuals.

MEDICAL SERVICES

Social Security Committee

London: TSO, 2000 (House of Commons papers. Session 1999/2000; HC 183)

The Benefits Agency Medical Services were contracted out to the Sema Group in the early 1990s. Committee concludes that the privatised organisation too often fails to deliver an adequate service to claimants due to:

  • poorly performing doctors;
  • inadequate training customers care;
  • time pressures imposed by the system that lead to hurried examinations and reports.

The falling numbers of examinations compared to cases dealt with by scrutiny, and the increasing numbers of claimants seen per session, lend to the suspicion that standards are coming second to profitability.

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