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Welfare Reform on the Web (September 2010): Social security - UK

An assessment to be feared

G. Carson

Community Care, July 22nd 2010, p. 24-25

Disability Living Allowance, introduced in 1992, is a tax-free, non-means tested benefit that helps 3.1 million children and adults meet the extra costs of disability. There are concerns that many disabled people could lose access to the benefit because of government plans to phase in a new medical assessment for working age claimants from 2013, with a points based system to assess eligibility.

Back to work

D. Finn

Public Finance, July 16th-29th 2010, p. 14-17

The coalition government has put welfare reform at the heart of its plans for reducing worklessness and public spending. The aim is to bring about transformational change in the welfare system by implementing stricter work capacity assessments, reinforcing the conditional nature of jobseeker benefits, and paying employment services providers for the savings they generate by getting people into sustained employment. This article highlights some of the potential problems with this approach.

Bounty hunters to cut benefit fraud by 1bn

H. Watt, R. Prince and R. Winnett

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 10th 2010, p. 1+2

The coalition government has unveiled plans to use credit reference agencies to trawl through household bills and credit card applications to identify benefit fraudsters. The agencies will receive a reward payment for every fraudster they identify. The companies believe that they can save the Treasury 1bn and earn themselves 50m by exposing cheats. Full credit checks will be carried out on all new benefits claimants as well as existing recipients who are suspected of fraud.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Aug. 11th 2010, p. 2; Independent, Aug. 11th 2010, p.8)

The distributional effect of tax and benefit reforms to be introduced between June 2010 and April 2014: a revised assessment

J. Browne and P. Levell

Institute for Fiscal Studies, 2010 (IFS briefing note: BN108)

This research investigated the impact of changes to the tax and benefits system introduced in the coalition government's emergency budget. The analysis concludes that the biggest losers from the budget are low income households of working age, while better off working age households without children lose the least. Low-income pensioners are less affected by welfare cuts than other poor groups, but wealthier pensioners lose more than richer households of working age because they do not benefit from the increased income tax allowance.

(For reaction by Equality and Human Rights Commission see Daily Telegraph, Aug. 26th 2010, p. 6)

URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/bns/bn108.pdf

Doctors warn that forcing sick-benefit claimants into work is doomed to fail

D. Rose and S. Coates

The Times, Aug. 18th 2010, p. 6

A report in the British Medical Journal has stated that the current policy aimed at getting people who are on long-term benefit back to work is doomed to fail. The report suggests that instead, the government should focus on supporting those who are vulnerable to becoming dependent on benefit. The research found no evidence that GPs were signing people off sick inappropriately. The Department for Work and Pensions has been asked to find 10 billion worth of savings, much of which will be met through reforms to the benefits system.

Families to lose out in bonfire of the benefits

S. Coates and S. Jagger

The Times, Aug. 18th 2010, p. 1 & 6

Child benefit, winter fuel payments and other universal benefits are to be cut back in a 13 billion reduction of the benefits system. It is likely that middle-class families will be significantly affected by the reductions. The reductions have prompted claims that David Cameron is breaking key election promises. Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, and the Chancellor, George Osborne continue to be in dispute about the reforms.

People on benefits 'should pick fruit'

L. Gray

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 26th 2010, p.11

The Fruit and Vegetable Task Force has called on the coalition government to adapt the benefits system to encourage claimants to undertake seasonal work such as fruit and vegetable picking. At present unemployed people risk losing benefits if they take a short term job, and face a mountain of paperwork if they go back on social security.

Thousands go straight from school to a life on benefits

C. Hope

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 4th 2010, p.6

Employment minister Chris Grayling has revealed that 1,240 16- and 17-year-olds and 99,630 18 to 24-year-olds were claiming Incapacity Benefit in November 2009. The minister said that these figures showed how the sickness benefit system had run out of control under Labour, leading to young people being written off as soon as they left school.

Winter fuel payment cuts to hit millions of pensioners

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 18th 2010, p.1

This article reports speculation that the coalition government intends to save money by increasing the qualifying age for the annual winter fuel payment from 60 to at least 66 in line with the raising of the retirement age. The move comes despite a pledge by the Conservatives during the 2010 general election campaign to protect benefits for older people.

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