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

100,000 MORE QUALIFY FOR INCOME SUPPORT

G. Hurst

Times, Apr. 3rd 2001, p. 12

Under changes announced in the 2000 Pre-Budget Report older people with savings between £6,000 and £12,000 will be eligible for the minimum income guarantee from April 2001, up from between £3,000 and £8,000. The minimum income guarantee will rise at the same time from £78.45 per week to £92.15.

BENEFITS LOOPHOLE CLOSED TO MAKE COUPLES SEEK JOBS

B. Russell

Independent, Mar. 20th 2001, p. 8

Reports that childless couples who are both out of work will now have to make a joint application for Jobseekers Allowance, forcing both to look for work. In the past, one partner was regarded as a dependent and did not have to look for a job.

BENEFITS SHAKE-OUT MAKES FOR A DEPARTMENT WITH LITTLE SECURITY

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Apr. 11th 2001, p. 10

Describes the restructuring of the Department of Social Security into three divisions: pensions, children and working age. The Benefits Agency is being merged with the Employment Service to form the Working Age Agency which will eventually report to the Department for Education and Employment. Responsibility for the Working Families Tax Credit and planned Integrated Child Credit rests with Inland Revenue, leaving the DSS overseeing pensions and benefits for the disabled only.

CLAIMANTS NOT ON ELECTORAL REGISTER MAY LOSE BENEFITS

P. Waugh

Independent, Apr. 2nd 2001, p. 2

Reports that Labour MP Phil Woolas is bringing a private member's Bill before Parliament to make membership of the electoral roll a precondition of entitlement to benefit. It is expected that this would help in tackling both benefit fraud and voter apathy.

COURT RULING ON COMPENSATION HITS DISABLED

H. Rumbelow

Times, Apr. 10th 2001, p. 4

Reports an Appeal Court ruling that compensation awarded to victims of accidents to pay for their long term care should be regarded as income thus making them ineligible for state benefits.

EXTRA MONEY, BUT WHO IS GOING TO GAIN?

R. Winchester

Community Care, no. 1364, 2001, p. 10-11

Considers the impact of the 2001 Budget on low income working families, lone parents on benefit, pensioners and disabled people. The budget will help low income working families the most, but offers little to other vulnerable groups.

FUEL PAYMENT RISE A CRUDE BRIBE, CLAIM LIB DEMS

L. Ward

Guardian, Mar. 30th 2001, p. 11

Research by the Liberal Democrats has indicated that the government's spending projections for 2001/02 onwards are based on winter fuel payments to all pensioners of £150.00, which is £50 less than in 2000/01.

HOLES IN THE SAFETY NET

Jonathan Pearce

Community Care, no. 1365, 2001, p. 12

The government's system of discretionary loans is failing to act as a bridge out of poverty. Article discusses the shortcomings of the scheme and looks at who should take responsibility for it in the future.

INTEGRATED CHILD CREDIT

Social Security Committee

London: TSO, 2001 (House of Commons papers. Session 2000/01; HC 72)

Argues that the proposed new integrated child credit (ICC) should not be used to facilitate the abolition of child benefit, which should remain a universal entitlement. Recommends that ICC awards should be fixed for at least six months and only adjusted for major changes in family circumstances. Also considers at length how the ICC will interact with other means tested benefits such as Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

MORE FAMILIES DRAW WELFARE

B. Brogan

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 17th 2001, p. 2

Statistics produced by the House of Commons Library predict that by 2003 two fifths of all families will depend on means tested benefits for part of their income. This "welfare creep" is due to the introduction of income related subsidies to working families paid through the wage packet.

THE MUDDLE WAY TO WELFARE REFORM

R. Watson and A. Miles

Times, Mar. 27th 2001, p. 11

New Labour's social security policy is based on progressive universalism. This means that a few welfare benefits are universal, e.g. Child Benefit, but most are means-tested and targeted on those most in need. Labour policy is also to encourage, or even coerce, unemployed people into jobs to break their dependence on benefits. However the system is complex and many people are deterred from claiming.

PENALISED FOR HAVING A JOB

A. U. Sale

Community Care, no. 1366, 2001, p. 12

The Independent Living Fund distributes government funded cash grants to severely disabled people to pay for their personal assistants. The assessment criteria have recently been changed, resulting in many disabled people losing their grants or having to contribute to their care costs as soon as their income reaches £105.00 per week. This is acting a a disincentive for disabled people to take jobs.

RELIEF AT LAST FOR PENSIONERS

Anon.

Labour Research, vol. 90, Apr. 2001, p. 16-18

Summarises improvements in state welfare benefit rates for pensioners, carers and disabled people coming into force in April 2001.

TV ADS ON BENEFIT FOR OLD 'AN EXPENSIVE FLOP'

N. Watt

Guardian, Mar. 16th 2001, p. 11

A £15m campaign aimed at promoting the Minimum Income Guarantee which was launched last year as part of the government strategy for tackling pensioner poverty has been, 'a costly flop.' 2.4m letters were sent to potentially eligible pensioners. Only 840,000 inquired about the benefit, 182,000 sent back application forms and only 82,000 had their application accepted.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Mar. 16th 2001, p. 14; Independent, Mar. 16th 2001, p. 10)