Daily Telegraph, May 14th 2012, p. 1, 2 + 12
In an interview with the newspaper, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith outlined plans to introduce radical reforms to disability benefits that would see more than two million claimants reassessed over four years. Under the reform plans, the Disability Living Allowance would be replaced with a more focused benefit, the Personal Independence Payment, for which only those medically assessed to be in genuine need of support would qualify. The reform could lead to those without limbs having their payments reduced if their everyday mobility was not impaired thanks to prostheses. The proposed reforms were expected to lead to high-profile protests by disability campaigners.
The Guardian, May 23rd 2012, p. 4
Unemployed people suspected of suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction would have their benefits cut if they refused treatment for their condition. In a sign of the government's new benefits regime, which lay at the heart of Ian Duncan Smith's cost-cutting welfare changes, staff in Jobcentre Plus offices would be encouraged to cut the Jobseeker's Allowance of claimants who rejected treatment for addiction. The new rules would come into place in October 2013 when the Universal Credit, which was designed to wrap benefits into one payment, was introduced.
Working Brief, Spring 2012, p. 28-31
In September 2010, at the age of 50, the author had a severe stroke and was not expected to live. She recounts her personal experience of the benefits system and the barriers to financial support that she encountered. She argues that the current operations of the benefits system are based on the assumption that all claimants are out to defraud, and that a radical change in attitude is needed.
Daily Telegraph, May 16th 2012, p. 1 + 2
A confidential Downing Street policy paper seen by the newspaper proposed a crackdown on housing benefit and a revised system of universal credit that would push claimants off benefits and into full time, rather than part time, work. The reforms were intended to be introduced in 2014 in the run up to the 2015 general election, but the plans had not been shared with the Liberal Democrats.
Daily Telegraph, May 15th 2012, p. 1 + 4
The Institute of Chartered Accountants warned the government in a confidential report that its plans to strip middle class families of child benefit would be a disaster, causing confusion, intrusion and unwarranted fines. The Institute claimed the plans were doomed because they involved combining the benefits system, based on households, with the tax system, based on individuals. This meant using the tax system to claw back from one individual a benefit paid to another, which could prove impossible, especially if the relationship broke down.
Working Brief, Spring 2012, p. 20-22
Universal Credit is to be welcomed for its simplicity and transparency. In creating a single benefit and rule of benefit withdrawal, households can more easily tell whether work pays or not. However, there are risks that it could reinforce or exacerbate inequalities between men and women, and reinforce female dependence. This article sets out three key obstacles that need to be overcome in order to avoid the policy furthering inequalities: 1) the low incentive to work for second earners in a household, who are more likely to be women; 2) the low incentive for lone parents to progress in work; and 3) the risk that "household" payments disadvantage women in couple households.