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

ASSET - BASED WELFARE: TACKLING POVERTY AND INEQUALITY

S. Regan

New Economy, vol. 8, 2001, p.118-120

Discusses various policy approaches the government could use to encourage asset-holding among those on low incomes as a lever for eradicating poverty.

CHILD POVERTY: AIMS, ACHIEVEMENTS AND PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE

D. Piachaud and H. Sutherland

New Economy, vol.8, 2001, p.71-76

Considers the impact of tax and benefit changes introduced by the Labour government on family incomes and child poverty rates. Simulated analyses of reductions in poverty brought about by Labour's tax and benefit reforms show that about one million children have been brought out of poverty. In order to continue the good work in its second term in government, Labour needs to encourage parents into work through improved childcare provision and to raise benefits levels for those who cannot work due to sickness or disability.

A CHILDHOOD IN POVERTY: PERSISTENT VERSUS TRANSITORY POVERTY

R. Berthoud

New Economy, vol. 8, 2001, p.77-87

Concludes that higher out-of-work benefits, while effective in the short term, cannot of themselves eradicate poverty. While the number of British children in non-working families claiming income support or job seekers allowance has fallen in recent years, it still stands at over 2.5 million. No sustainable anti-poverty policy can be based on income maintenance for so large a group of families. Evidence suggests that Labour's back-to-work policies will have at best a marginal effect on the number of parents in employment. Yet it is in this area that second-term policies will have to focus.

DOING GOOD BY STEALTH: THE POLITICS OF POVERTY AND INEQUALITY UNDER NEW LABOUR

R. Lister

New Economy, vol. 8, 2001, p.65-70

Argues that the Labour government's attempts to eradicate poverty by redistributing income "by stealth" to avoid upsetting middle class voters is unsustainable in the long term. Calls for increased benefit levels funded by higher taxation, recognition of the value of unpaid work, and more involvement of poor people in policy development.

ERADICATING CHILD POVERTY IN BRITAIN: WELFARE REFORM AND CHILDREN SINCE 1997

M Brewer and P. Gregg

London: Institute of Fiscal Studies, 2001 (Working paper: 01/08)

The Labour government has set a policy objective of eradicating child poverty by 2020. Initial steps towards this end include increasing direct financial support to families with children, creating financial incentives for work for (single) parents, adopting more intensive case management for the welfare caseload, and ameliorating the long-term consequences of the deprivation that poverty brings. The Working Families' Tax Credit (WFTC) is the centrepiece of the financial support arrangements, but there is a broader swathe of welfare reforms which has received less attention. For most households, the reforms have reduced marginal benefit deduction rates and increased incentives to work. Preliminary evidence suggests the changes have had the greatest impact on lone parents.

FAMILY FORTUNES

F. Rickford

Community Care, no.1374, 2001, p.24-25

New Labour family policy focuses on lifting families out of poverty by encouraging parents to take paid work through in-work benefits such as the Working Families Tax Credit. Other measures include increasing child benefit and replacement of the married couples allowance with the Children's Tax Credit. Article also summarises Conservative and Liberal Democrat Party policy proposals.

GLAD TO BE GREY?

K. Inman

Community Care, no. 1373, 2001, p.24-26

Summarises the Labour government's record on provision of state benefits for older people and combating pensioner poverty and outlines Conservative and Liberal Democrat policy proposals.

HAGUE PROMISES DIGNITY FOR PENSIONERS

A McSmith

Daily Telegraph, May 23rd 2001, p.8

The Conservatives have promised that, if elected, they would:

  • increase the basic state pension;
  • raise pensioners' tax allowances by £2,000;
  • abolish the 20% rate of tax on savings;
  • give pensioners the option of continuing to receive special payments such as the winter fuel allowance or getting the money as a tax-free boost to their basic pension.

IN PRAISE OF BROWN'S TRUST FUND

S. Brittan

Financial Times, May 24th 2001, p.21

Argues in favour of redistribution of wealth through asset-based welfare initiatives such as Labour's proposed "Baby Bonds", which will give all citizens a stake in society and access to a little capital.

LABOUR SET TO LEGISLATE ON FLEXIBLE WORK HOURS

R. Bennett

Financial Times, May 31st 2001, p.6

The Labour Party is proposing that businesses should be legally obliged to consider seriously all requests for flexible working arrangements from staff with young children. Companies will have a right to refuse the request, but will have to prove they have reasonable grounds for their decision.

SOCIAL COST OF THE MIDDLE BRITAIN ETHOS

R. Lister

Guardian, May 25th 2001, p.18

In its first term Labour tackled poverty through redistribution by stealth so as not to alienate the middle classes. However, the eradication of poverty requires sterner massive redistribution through improved benefits. To fund this, taxation will need to be raised and redefined as a citizenship responsibility and not a burden.