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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 1999): Social Security - UK

BEARING DOWN ON FRAUD AND LODGING

J Bourn and A Foster

Public Finance, April 9th-15th 1999, p.17

The abuse of Housing Benefit remains one of the major probity issues for central and local government. In the past year, many councils have made strenous efforts to prevent, detect and deter fraud, and have sharpened their administration of benefits to prevent fraud getting into the system. But too many authorities remain unwilling to make any serious effort to tackle fraud.

BENEFIT CHANGES RESULT IN HARDSHIP FOR TENANTS

N. Timmins

Financial Times, April 20th 1999, p. 13

Research shows that changes to housing benefit aimed at getting tenants to negotiate lower rents with landlords have had little success but have caused appreciable financial hardship.

FUNDING OF SUPPORT SERVICES

K. Boyle

Registered Homes and Services, vol. 3, 1999, p. 149-151.

Discusses implications of the government's proposals for the reform of the funding of supported housing.

THE IMPACT OF EUROPEAN LAW ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY POLICIES IN THE UK

J. Ditch and P. Spicker

International Social Security Review, vol. 52, 1999, p. 75-90.

Concludes that the impact of the EU on either the structure or the operation of the British social security system has been limited. The dominant model in Europe is based on social insurance, with individuals gaining rights according to their work record. In the UK, by contrast, there has been a movement away from national insurance, leading to an extensive and long-term dependence on means-tested benefits.

A NEW CONTRACT FOR WELFARE: SAFEGUARDING SOCIAL SECURITY

Department of Social Security

London: TSO, 1999 (Cm 4276)

Outlines the government's strategy for rooting out benefits fraud. The emphasis is on prevention of fraud. Measures include imposing a legal obligation on Income Support claimants to prove their identity before benefit is paid. Income Support will not be paid in full until all evidence required has been provided, and all claimants will have a face-to-face interview with a personal adviser. More thorough checks of evidence submitted in support of claims will be made, and interagency co-operation and information sharing will be fostered.

PROGRESS ON MEASURES TO COMBAT HOUSING BENEFIT FRAUD

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 1999. (House of Commons papers. Session 1998/99; HC 319).

Reports on progress in making Housing Benefit simpler to understand, in raising local authorities standards of administration, in removing barriers to co-operation, and in rewarding effective fraud prevention systems in local authorities.

REPLY BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE THIRD REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON DISABILITY LIVING ALLOWANCE

Department of Social Security

London: TSO, 1999 (Cm 4307)

The Government is committed to modernising the delivery of Disability Living Allowance andn Attendance Allowance and introducing a new system of active case managemetn that ensures that cases are right at the outset and remain right. As a first step, the government will introduce a new system of periodic enquiry about benefit entitlement for existing recipients of DLA from April 1999.

SUPPORTED HOUSING PLAN ATTACKED

N Valios

Community Care, no. 1267, 1999, p. 4 - 5.

Local authorities are warning that the government's decision to replace the support element of Housing Benefit with a cash-limited grant administered by councils could leave supported housing in the same perilous state as community care services. Local joint commissioning panels from social services, housing and probation services will administer the element of Housing Benefit currently claimed by 300,000 people for support services. Grants will be at their discretion, rather than received as a right under Housing Benefit.

SUPPORTING PEOPLE: A NEW POLICY AND FUNDING FRAMEWORK FOR SUPPORT SERVICES

Department of Social Security

Hayes, 1998.

Proposes that Housing Benefit paid for support services and certain other existing funding streams are brought together into a single budget which will be distributed to local authorities to be applied at the local level on the basis of individual need. Incentives will be created for local housing, social services and probation services to work together to deliver cost-effective and high quality services to vulnerable people.

(For comment see Public Finance, Feb. 12th - 18th 1999, p. 8)

TOUGH YEAR AHEAD FOR CLAIMANTS

Labour Research, vol. 88, no. 4, 1999, p. 15-16.

Outlines new benefit rates taking effect from 12th April 1999. Contributory benefits increase by 3.2%, the rate of inflation shown in September 1998. Means tested benefits are uprated in line with the ROSSI index (the retail price index less certain housing costs), which went up by just 2.1%.

US FIRMS POISED TO RUN THE BENEFITS SYSTEM

A. Sherwin

The Times, April 30th 1999, p. 1

A restricted document leaked to the Times reveals government plans for claimants to make a single application for all the benefits to which they are entitled and to receive a single cheque in return. Under the new scheme, to be known as the Single Work-Focused Gateway, claimants would be given a personal adviser who would create a package to meet all their needs. Private companies such as Arthur Andersen and Deloitte Consulting would be invited to run the new system. Pilot schemes will begin in November this year in Leeds, Cheshire, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk, and will then go nationwide.

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