P. Blond and S. Gruescu
This report calls on the government to retain the infrastructure of Child Trust Funds and use it to create a tax-free savings account called Asset Building for Children (ABC). Parents would be encouraged to save into the accounts by receiving tax relief on contributions of up to £3,600 per year. Donations from charities and businesses, combined with government money, would match contributions paid into accounts by low-income families. It is argued that encouraging poor families to save would do more to reduce inequality than closing the income gap between rich and poor.
The Guardian, Sept. 7th 2010, p. 15
A coalition of charities including Mind, Papworth Trust and the MS Society claims that controversial health test being pushed by ministers to decide who will get long term sickness benefits is not working. There is mounting evidence that people with serious illnesses are being judged fit for work when they are not.
Daily Telegraph, Sept. 29th 2010, p.1
Lord Freud, the welfare reform minister, has suggested that benefits fraudsters could face new penalties, such as bans on new claims and seizure of assets. The worst offenders could be banned for life from making fresh claims.
J. Kirkup and A. Porter
Daily Telegraph, Sept. 10th 2010, p. 2
The Chancellor has signalled that he will be seeking £4bn further cuts in spending on benefits in 2010/11, in addition to the £11bn already announced. The search for new savings is being driven by Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, who wants to give claimants a stronger financial incentive to take jobs by allowing them to keep more of their benefits when they start earning. This will increase costs in the short term. The Treasury says that these must be covered by additional savings in the welfare budget.
(For denial of the report by Mr Duncan Smith see Daily Telegraph, Sept. 16th 2010, p. 16)
The Times, Sept. 16th 2010, p.1
Nick Clegg has championed radical benefit cuts and has argued that the State must not 'compensate the poor for their predicament.' The argument is in dramatically different from his party's position when they were in Opposition.
Social Policy and Society, vol.9, 2010, p. 461-473
Since 1979 the right to unemployment benefit has become contingent upon more and more conditions, and this trend looks set to continue. Both Labour and Conservative parties feel justified in insisting that those who can work should work. Politicians' claims that conditionality is fair rely on the empirically unsubstantiated assumption that equal opportunities are possible in a society in which income and wealth are unequally distributed and there is a wide gap between the life chances of babies born into households at the top and bottom of the income distribution. Fifty interviews examined in depth a diverse sample's values, views about work and welfare, and labour market choices. Respondents' views about equality strongly influenced their views on conditionality and what they considered to be acceptable labour market behaviour. Unemployed respondents with alternative values, who rejected politicians' suggestions that they should work, nevertheless favoured an equal society with work obligations and often undertook voluntary work.
The Guardian, Sept. 10th 2010, p. 1
The chancellor George Osborne has revealed a further £4bn cuts to unemployment benefits, targeting those who see benefits as a 'lifestyle choice'. The Department for Work and Pension, however, said no agreement had been reached or specific figures agreed.
(See also The Independent, Sept. 10th 2010, p. 16 and The Times, Sept. 10th 2010, p.12)
Committee of Public Accounts
London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC 404)
During 2008-09, the Department for Work and Pensions (the Department) paid £12.6 billion in incapacity benefits to 2.6 million people who were unable to work because of disability or ill health. The Pathways to Work programme was launched nationally between 2005 and 2008 to help reduce the number of incapacity benefit claimants through targeted support and an earlier medical assessment. The numbers on incapacity benefits reduced by 125,000 between 2005 and 2009, however, Pathways contribution to this reduction has been much more limited than planned. This report finds that the programme has had limited impact and was not well implemented. Contractors have universally failed by considerable margins to meet their contractual targets for helping claimants who are required to go through Pathways. They have performed worse than Jobcentre Plus areas, although recent improvements have narrowed the difference. Early evidence shows that the new medical assessment, introduced with Employment and Support Allowance, will deliver a significant reduction in the number of incapacity benefits claimants and the government needs to learn the lessons from Pathways and apply them to the new Work Programme.
Working Brief, June 2010, p.6-7
In previous recessions, labour market inactivity has grown as people give up looking for work and either take early retirement or become full time carers. This article examines how the current recession has affected the numbers of claimants moving onto and out of inactive benefits, i.e. Employment Support Allowance and Incapacity Benefit.