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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2002): Social Security - UK

£5BN HOLE IN BROWN'S SPENDING PLEDGES

N. Watt

Guardian, Oct. 22nd 2001, p. 11

Figures uncovered by the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggest that a series of new tax credits, which have not been listed in the government's spending plans, will cost £2.4bn. Separate research by the House of Commons Library indicates that the new measures could cost as much as £5.2bn. The cost of the credits will make it almost impossible for the Chancellor to avoid tax rises in the March 2002 budget.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Oct. 22nd 2001, p. 1&2)

ABOUT TIME: FLEXIBLE WORKING

Work and Parents Taskforce

2001

Recommends that employers should only be obliged to give requests from new parents to work part time "serious consideration". The duty to consider should consist of a series of procedural steps to encourage resolution of requests in the workplace. These should include the establishment of a clear business case by employers for rejecting the request and the explanation of it to the parents.

BROWN'S NEW TAX CREDITS "WILL COST £3BN A YEAR"

G. Duncan

Times, Nov. 1st 2001, p. 30

An analysis the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows that government plans to expand the system of tax credits will cost up to £3bn a year and risk being complicated, ineffective and unpopular. The proposed integrated child credit and employment tax credit will cost about £2.1bn a year if they are not actually to make families worse off. This could rise to £2.8bn if the credits are not to mean that some two-earner families who already receive the existing children's tax credit lose out.

(See also Financial Times, Nov. 1st 2001, p. 5)

HOUSING BENEFIT ADMINISTRATION

Audit Commission

Audit Commission Publications, 2001

Reports that administration of housing benefit by local authorities is tarnished by waste, error and fraud that costs the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds each year. While the service could be easier to deliver in some parts of the country than others, similar authorities offer different standards of service, suggesting that management can make a difference. Three quarters of authorities take more than six weeks on average to process new claims, while the worst leave tenants waiting more than six months. These delays are leading to evictions and to private landlords refusing housing benefit claimants. Outsourcing administration can help, but only if both the council and the contractor are good managers, being clear about specifications and honest about workloads involved.

LIES, DAMNED LIES AND PUBLIC SPENDING

D. Walker

Public Finance, Nov. 2nd - 8th 2001, p. 10

The government is coming under pressure to present planned child, pensioner and employment tax credits as public spending commitments in its accounts.

SMALL FIRMS FEAR "LEAVE FROM WORK" BILL

M. Becket

Daily Telegraph, Nov. 12th 2001, p. 31

The new Employment Bill gives mothers the right to six months paid and six months unpaid maternity leave. In addition new fathers get two weeks paid paternity leave. The taxpayer will fund this by reimbursing small businesses plus some compensation for administrative costs.

UP TO THEIR OLD TRICKS

P. Toynbee

Guardian, Nov. 2nd 2001, p. 19

Describes the tensions and unrest among the workforce arising from the merger of the moderate Employment Service and the more militant Benefits Agency.

VISION FOR JOBCENTRE PLUS FOUNDED ON GOOD EVIDENCE

P. Bivand

Working Brief, no. 128, 2001, p. 8-9

Jobcentre Plus brings together the functions (and staff) of the Employment Service (ES) and the Benefits Agency (BA) which relate to working age claimants. Customers will be encouraged to contact the agency by phone initially. They will be assessed for job readiness, and an initial meeting with a Personal Adviser (PA) will be arranged and claim forms sent out. On arrival for the meeting, the claims forms will be checked by a benefits experts. The PA will then conduct a work focused interview.

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