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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2012): Social security - overseas

A disarmingly simple idea? Practical bottlenecks in the implementation of a universal basic income

J. de Wispelaere and L. Stirton

International Social Security Review, vol. 65, no.2, 2012, p. 103-121

In the past two decades the idea of a basic income paid to all citizens irrespective of household composition, other sources of income, or participation in the labour market, has gained support as an alternative to the active welfare state. Advocates of basic income schemes have overlooked the fact that implementation would produce its own challenges. This article discusses three practical difficulties with operationalising a basic income scheme: 1) maintenance of a population-wide list of eligible claimants to ensure full take up; 2) institution of robust payment modalities that reach all intended beneficiaries; and 3) designing an effective oversight mechanism in a policy context that explicitly opposes client monitoring.

Means and ends: why child support is not used to meet housing costs

K. Natalier

Housing Studies, vol. 27, 2012, p. 174-188

There is limited research on how child maintenance payments are used by resident parents, usually mothers. Based on research in Australia, this paper describes how, and indeed if, child support payments can be used by resident mothers to meet the housing needs of their children and themselves. It argues that the impact of child support upon housing can only ever be limited. There are three barriers to using child support as a resource to meet housing needs. Mothers' spending decisions are circumscribed by the amount and reliability of the money they receive and definitions of "appropriate use" that may be referenced to child specific costs. These barriers arise out of the logic of private ordering that underlies Australia's Child Support Scheme and reinforces the gendered disadvantages of single mothers.

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