Disability Rights Bulletin, Summer 2001, p.14-15
A recent Social Security Commissioners' decision has held that appeal tribunals that include doctors employed or contracted to prepare medical reports for Benefits Agency decision makers may well be in breach of natural justice.
Disability Rights Bulletin, Summer 2001, p.12-14
The government has announced that it intends to change the rules that enable people on Incapacity Benefit to do some work while claiming. It proposes to change the therapeutic work rules from April 2002 and replace them with provisions for permitted work for a specified period of time. The new system will make it easier for most people to undertake some work while claiming incapacity benefit, but not to do so indefinitely.
Department for Work and Pensions, Analytical Services Division
Report presents the results of the National Benefit Review of Incapacity Benefit (IB). This was an exercise to measure the level of fraud and error in claims for IB. The results are based on reviews carried out on a random sample of 1401 claimants. In 95% of cases reviewed the rate of benefit was correct. Up to 0.5% of cases was found to be fraudulent, compared to official errors in 2.1%.
Better Regulation Task Force
The Housing Benefit system is failing lone parents who find themselves trapped in a poverty cycle due to complicated and uncompromising regulations. They are also suffering because of lack of communication between different council departments and time consuming bureaucracy. Report calls on councils to improve communication and joined up working.
Disability Rights Bulletin, Summer 2001, p.5
Summarises recent government announcements concerning changes to Incapacity Benefit in chronological order.
Cambridge: Zacchaeus Trust 2000, 1999
Urges the Church of England to press the government for the introduction of a "minimum income standard" for families with children, single parents and elderly and disabled people. Such a standard would have immediate implications for levels of benefits, minimum wages, taxation and tax credits and fines.
European Industrial Relations Review, no.331, 2001, p.13-17
Summarises entitlements to maternity, paternity and parental benefits in Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Also gives a tabular overview of provisions and a general round-up of the main issues and trends across Europe.
National Audit Office
London: TSO, 2001 (House of Commons papers. Session 2000-01; HC 280)
The medical assessment of disability benefits was outsourced to improve the performance and value for money of this vital service. Since outsourcing the speed and efficiency of medical assessment have improved but savings could be made by reducing delays in Benefits Agency processes. Improvements in the targeting and quality of assessments have yet to be fully delivered.
Financial Times, Sept. 4th 2001, p.4
Reports a rapid increase in male labour market inactivity between 1975 and 1998, when the proportion of men neither working nor unemployed rose from 2.6% to 13.2%. The surge in male inactivity is greatest among older, unskilled workers and may be due to generous disability benefit and redundancy packages, and an increase in the numbers of skilled workers due to higher education standards.
Roof, Sept./Oct. 2001, p.14-17
Reports interview with the Social Security Minister Malcolm Wicks. He plans to reform Housing Benefit by removing the link between it and rent. Under the proposal, tenants will receive a housing allowance to be spent on rent. In theory, they can keep anything left over. Administration of Housing Benefit should be improved by the introduction of a Performance Framework, which will give local authorities a set of standards to work towards. Help Teams will be available to offer expert assistance to struggling councils, but there are no plans to contract out failing services.
Guardian, Sept. 5th 2001, p.10
Britain's low unemployment rate could be due to the number of people who have moved on to sickness benefit in response to reductions in unemployment benefits which have been introduced in an attempt to increase the financial incentives to work. It is estimated that as much as 7% of Britain's working population is now economically inactive.