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

BLUNKETT TIGHTENS BENEFIT RULES

K. Maguire

Guardian, June 6th 2000, p.11

In a planned reform of the Jobseekers Allowance, partners of unemployed claimants will be forced to sign on and made to seek work. In order to make it easier for JSA claimants to take temporary jobs, benefits will be suspended rather than ended, do that they can return to them without having to re-apply.

(See also Independent, June 8th 2000, p. 1)

THE CONTRIBUTORY PRINCIPLE

SOCIAL SECURITY COMMITTEE

London : TSO, 2000 (House of Commons papers session 1999/2000; HC56)

Concludes that the National Insurance scheme has been undermined both directly as a result of successive governments' policies and indirectly as a result of social and economic change. However, there is a fundamental distinction in principle between benefits which people have earned on the basis of their contributions to cover identified risks and benefits paid by the state to people on low incomes. A wholly means-tested benefits system would be cheaper, but would be a bureaucratic nightmare and would undermine work and savings incentives.

THE DARLING OF CLIENTS?

M. Taylor

Community Care, No. 1325, 2000, p.14

The government is proceeding with a stealthy, incremental reform of the benefits system. Two guiding principles underlie the reforms:

  • that work is always preferable to benefits;
  • that benefits should be targeted on the most needy.

ESTABLISHING A ONE-STOP-SHOP' FOR CLAIMANTS

B. Dhillon

Working Brief, issue 114 2000, p. 14-15

Describes the One Service pilots which offer claimants advice and information about both benefits and work. Highlights the centrality of the role of personal advisers who work on a one-to-one basis with clients and their invaluable contribution to the success of the system.

EVICTIONS AND ARREARS MOUNT FOR MOST TENANTS AS ANTI-FRAUD SYSTEM NEARS TOTAL COLLAPSE

P. Lashmar and I. Herbert

Independent, May 22nd 2000, p.6

Reports that due to the impact of the government's anti-fraud measures it can now take up to 8 months for housing benefit claims to be assessed and paid in some areas. This is causing rent arrears and the eviction of elderly and vulnerable tenants.

HOUSING BENEFIT AND WELFARE RETRENCHMENT IN BRITAIN

P. A. Kemp

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 29, 2000, p.263-279

Retrenchment in Housing Benefit was blocked under New Labour by

  • opposition of vested interests;
  • the electoral consequences of the reform creating a large number of losers;
  • radical reform requiring complicated changes to a raft of other social security benefits.

MPs EYE 'CROCK OF GOLD' FOR BENEFITS

Sparrow

Daily Telegraph, June 21st 2000, p.9

The social security committee of MPs suggests that the Government use some of the £5.9 billion "crock of gold" to improve benefits for the unemployed, the disabled and carers. The MPs recommend that eligibility for incapacity benefit and job-seeker's allowance should be extended and that a new non-means-tested benefit should be created for people who look after disabled friends or relatives. But the MPs also suggest that pension scheme payments should be made compulsory.

NEST EGGS

G. Kelly

Guardian: Society, June 7th 2000, p.8-9

In order to provide disadvantaged groups with capital assets, government could set up a savings account for every newborn child, with special endowments and matching contributions made for children from poor families. The account would build up in value until the young adult accessed it at the age of 18. A second possibility is the creation of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) run by local community groups and targeted at adults in deprived areas. These are savings accounts into which contributions from individuals are more than matched by those from the government.

TORIES WOULD RESTORE FAMILY CREDIT

R. Bennett

Financial Times, June 19th 2000, p.3

David Willetts, shadow social security spokesman, announced that the Tories plan to revive family credit, a benefit paid by the DSS directly to mothers. It would replace the working families tax credit introduced by the Labour government.

(See also Independent, June 20th 2000, p.5)

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