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

BROWN'S BENEFICENCE

D. Walker

Guardian, July 17th 2000, p. 15

Increasing public spending on social security benefits may not actually improve the lot of the poor, since a great deal of the money ends up in the pockets of the middle classes.

COUNCILS MAY LOSE HOUSING BENEFIT ROLE

C. Newman

Financial Times, July 13th 2000, p. 4

Reports that a plan to transfer responsibility for the administration of housing benefit to the Benefits Agency from local authorities is under discussion by government.

HOUSING BENEFIT

Social Society Committee

London: TSO, 2000 (House of Commons papers. Session 1999/2000; HC385)

Finds that there is a crisis in the Housing Benefit system both of delivery and of effectiveness in meeting need and policy objectives. Proposed short term improvements include simplification, reform of rent limits in private sector housing, and reducing the work disincentives built into the system. Goes on to consider the role of the Department of Social Security in improving administration of the benefit, and measures for tackling fraud.

HOUSING BENEFIT SYSTEM 'IN MELTDOWN'

J. Carvel

Guardian, July 27th 2000, p. 10

The housing benefit system is under attack from the Social Security Select Committee (which wants the system simplified), housing association chiefs (who want the administration of the benefit transferred from local authorities to a national agency) and the local government ombudsman (who is being deluged with complaints).

LOSING OUT

M. Dean

Guardian, Aug. 16th 2000, p. 19

Reports that the number of applicants being refused a loan from the social fund has grown from 4,856 in 1997/98 to 362,000 in 1999/2000. This has been caused by a new rule, introduced by Labour, under which a poor person who has already received one loan is no longer eligible for a second loan until a major part of the first has been paid off.

(See also Guardian, Aug. 15th 2000, p. 10; Times, Aug. 15th 2000, p. 8; Daily Telegraph, Aug. 16th 2000, p.2; Independent, Aug. 15th 2000, p. 1)

THE REAL FACTS OF HOUSING FRAUD

M. Gardner

Public Finance, June 30th - July 6th 2000, p. 24-25

Implementation of the verification framework, which requires councils to verify the identity and details of claimants, has given rise to allegations of excessive delays in the payment of housing benefit. These comments are exaggerated and based on anecdotal evidence. The framework is necessary to root out fraudulent claims.

REPORT ON MEDICAL SERVICES: REPLY BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE THIRD REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL SECURITY, SESSION 1999/2000

Department of Social Security

London: TSO, 2000 (Cm 4870)

The task of medically examining people claiming Incapacity Benefit has been contracted out to Sema Group UK. This has produced improvements in service delivery but not yet in medical quality. The government has therefore set targets by which tangible improvements in the service to meet contracted medical quality standards will be judged.

SAFEGUARDING SOCIAL SECURITY: GETTING THE INFORMATION WE NEED

Department of Social Security

London: 2000

Proposes giving benefit fraud investigators powers to delve into the bank accounts, pension plans and bills of suspected cheats without a court warrant.

(For comment see Financial Times, 18th July 2000, p. 2; Daily Telegraph, 18th July 2000, p 13)

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