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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2001): Social Security - UK

BROWN ACCUSED OF HIDING RISE IN NI CONTRIBUTIONS

G. Jones

Daily Telegraph, Nov. 10th 2000, p.1+2

The Chancellor in his pre-budget report has confirmed that the upper earnings limit for employees' National Insurance Contributions will be raised to £575.00 per week from £535.00 per week. This means that middle income earners will pay increased National Insurance contributions from next April. At the same time there will be a substantial rise in the lower earnings limit, cutting National Insurance payments made by the less well-off.

(See also Financial Times, Nov. 10th 2000, p.5).

A CREDIT TO CHILDREN: THE UK'S RADICAL REFORM OF CHILDREN'S BENEFITS IN AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE

D. Hirsch

York: York Publishing Services, 2000

Australia and Canada have both successfully introduced systems that give a common family benefit or tax credit regardless of work status. These benefits are higher for low income families but middle-income households with children also get some benefit. The United States has concentrated support on working families, having no general safety-net benefit. The experience of these countries underlines:

  • the importance of a stable system of benefits that reaches most families and is perceived as fair and inclusive;
  • the value of simple structures of entitlement;
  • the case for having bands of income over which entitlements are stable rather than withdrawing them continuously as income rises.
The UK can learn from these countries' experiences as it addresses key decisions around the implementation of the planned Integrated Child Credit.

DISABLED PEOPLE, NEW LABOUR, BENEFITS AND WORK

R.F. Drake

Critical Social Policy, no.65, 2000, p.421-439

Focuses on the implications of New Labour policy for disabled people in the areas of social security and employment. Notes the government's failure to espouse radical redistributive economic policies and its view of work as a defining social as well as economic phenomenon. Provides an assessment of government performance against its stated success criteria, which include an increase in the number of disabled people able to work, a reduction in spending on incapacity benefit, and a simpler system for determining entitlement to disability benefits.

DISABILITY GROUPS CALL FOR INCAPACITY BENEFIT TO MATCH PENSIONS

Anon

Community Care, no.1348, 2000, p.6-7

Reports calls by the Disability Benefits Consortium for Incapacity Benefit to be increased in line with the state pension. Group however welcomed other measures to help the disabled, including rises in the Disabled Child Premium, the Disability Income Guarantee, and the Carer Premium supplement for Income Support.

DOLE CHEATS CONVICTED TWICE WILL LOSE BENEFITS

A. Grice

Independent, Dec. 1st 2000, p.6

Announcing that the New Deal for the Young Unemployed has hit its target of getting 250,000 people into work, the government is now proposing to extend the scheme to persuade more single mothers and partners of unemployed people to take jobs. Under a new campaign against the black economy, people who are convicted twice of making a false claim for social security benefits will lose their state handouts for more than three months.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Dec. 1st 2000, p.11; Guardian, Dec. 1st 2000, p.14; Times, Dec. 1st 2000, p.2).

MR BROWN GIVES THE MEANS TEST A GOOD NAME

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Dec. 4th 2000, p.25

Discusses how Gordon Brown is seeking to remove the stigma from means tested benefits by integrating them with the tax system.

THE PENSION CREDIT: A CONSULTATION PAPER

Department of Social Security

London: TSO, 2000 (Cm 4900)

When introduced in 2003, the Pension Credit will reward pensioners whose savings, second pensions or earnings give them incomes of up to around £135.00 a week for single pensioners and £200.00 a week for couples. It will mean that no single pensioner need live on less than £100.00 per week - £154 per week for couples. It will entitle 5.5 million individual pensioners to more support. The guaranteed minimum income will be linked to earnings not prices. Pensioners on higher incomes will be helped by more generous income tax allowances, which will also be increased in line with earnings.