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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2011): Social security - UK

Employment and Support Allowance: what next?

D. Hall

Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, vol. 19, 2011, p. 71-74

Two major developments are approaching with regard to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Firstly, all current claimants of Incapacity Benefit, Income Support paid on grounds of incapacity, and Severe Disablement Allowance will transfer to ESA from April 2011 to May 2014. Secondly, the descriptors used to assess limited capability for work and limited capability for work-related activity will change from March 2011. It is anticipated that these changes will lead to a further 5% of claimants being found fit for work.

How social security works: an introduction to benefits in Britain

P. Spicker

Bristol: Policy Press, 2011

This is an introduction to the much-misunderstood system of benefits in Britain. The book is an accessible, broadly based text which can help readers to make sense of the system in practice. It explains the guiding principles, outlines the social context, considers the development and political dimensions of benefits, and reviews how the system operates now. There are detailed discussions of the types of benefit, and the contingencies covered by the benefits system. It then examines whether the system offers value for money, how it could be simplified and how it could be improved.

The 'listening ' minister raises hope with welfare climb-down

A. Asthana and J. Sherman

The Times, Feb. 18th 2011, p. 14, 15

Carers, disabled people in residential homes and the long-term unemployed will all benefit from a series of climb-downs by Iain Duncan Smith in his plans to reshape the welfare state. Significant concessions have been made in the Welfare Reform Bill. The biggest U-turn is the decision to scrap the plan to cut housing benefit by 10% for those who have been out of work for more than a year. He has also agreed to keep the carer's allowance.

Migrants free to claim full benefits

R. Ford

The Times, Mar. 3rd 2011, p. 1, 3

'Restrictions agreed in 2004 lifted in weeks'. More than 100,000 eastern European migrants will be able to claim tens of millions of pounds in benefits in Britain as the Government is forced to scrap safeguards imposed seven years ago when eight former Soviet bloc states joined the EU.

Mothers forced out of work by benefit cuts

M. Beckford

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 15th 2011, p. 15

A study by the Netmuns website claims that the average family will lose more than 400 in childcare benefits under the stricter regime being introduced by the coalition government. From financial year 2011/12, working families will be able to claim back only 70% of childcare costs, instead of 80% as at present. A survey of 2,196 working mothers who visit Netmums found that 68% would have to make significant adjustments to their childcare arrangements. More than a fifth (22%) of respondents said they would have to give up their jobs, while 29% said they would reduce their working hours to make childcare more affordable.

Reducing losses in the benefits system caused by customers' mistakes

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC 704)

The Department for Work and Pensions does not yet have enough evidence to demonstrate that its activities to reduce the cost of mistakes by customers have been value for money. Errors arising from the benefits system customers' mistakes are difficult for the Department to detect, correct and prevent without affecting the quality of the service provided because of the difficulty in keeping up to date with changes in circumstances which can impact on how much individuals are entitled to claim. As things stand, the scale of overpayments leads to substantial unrecovered losses for the taxpayer, while underpayments may cause hardship for individuals, so there is a clear imperative for improvement.

Tax credits: a close-up view

J. Millar

Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, vol.19, 2011, p. 39-50

The current system of Tax Credits in the UK was introduced in 2003 to deliver the Labour government's commitments to increase work incentives, make work pay and reduce poverty among working families. This paper explores and illustrates the experience of being in the Tax Credit system through a case study of one family over several years.

Tears and tales of injustice as claimants give their verdict on new disability test

A. Gentleman

The Guardian, Mar. 8th 2011, p. 19

Amelia Gentleman reports on an emotional public meeting at which MPs heard what it is like to face the new computer-led assessment designed to separate those people able to work from those who are too sick or disabled to do so.

Welfare bill 'will penalise cancer patients'

P. Wintour

The Guardian, Mar. 9th 2011, p. 1

The coalition government's radical plan to reform the benefits system will today come under attack from an unprecedented alliance of 30 cancer charities warning that the Welfare Reform Bill will leave tens of thousands of people with cancer worse off and push some into poverty.

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