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

BROWN POSTPONES SAVINGS PLAN FOR BABIES AND POOR

J. Sherman

Times, Nov. 26th 2001, p.8

Proposals for government grants for all babies and a savings scheme for the poor have been delayed amid fears that they may be too expensive in the short term.

THE EMPLOYMENT TAX CREDIT AND ISSUES FOR THE FUTURE OF IN-WORK SUPPORT

F. Bennett and D. Hirsch

York: York Publishing Services, 2001

The Employment Tax Credit will be available to families with children and disabled people working 16 hours a week or more. It will also cover childless individuals and couples over 25 with full time jobs. Concludes that tax credits can reduce in-work poverty, but need to be supplemented by other measures including improvements in the minimum wage and support for career progression.

FAMILY CREDIT OVERSPEND AS CLAIMANT UPTAKE RISES

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Dec. 10rd 2001, p.4

More than 1.25m families are claiming the Working Families Tax Credit against 817,000 claiming the predecessor Family Credit. The unexpectedly high numbers of people claiming the credit led to government overspending on it by £300m in 2000/01. An overspend of £200m is anticipated this year, and £400m in 2002/03.

NEW LAW "TO GIVE 400,000 MORE PARENTS FLEXIBLE HOURS"

L. Wood

Guardian, Nov. 20rd 2001, p.11

Reports government plans to introduce legislation compelling employers to go through a formal process to give serious consideration to requests from parents of young children to change their working hours. Employers may refuse requests on business grounds, but employees may challenge decisions through a formal appeals process leading ultimately to a tribunal hearing.

(See also Financial Times, Nov. 20th 2001, p.3)

NEW PENSION CREDIT "WILL COST £10BN A YEAR BY 2040"

E. Crooks and R. Bennett

Financial Times, Nov 29th 2001, p.4

Analysts PwC calculate that the cost of the new pensioners tax credit will rise to the equivalent of £10bn a year by 2040. This is because the number of pensioners is growing and because the proportion of pensioners eligible for it will increase.

THE PARENTS' FAIRY GODMOTHER

Y. Roberts

Guardian, Nov. 21st 2002, p.18

From next spring harassed parents will have the right to ask their employer for flexible hours. The law is aimed at accelerating progress towards a better work-life balance, allowing the majority of employees to tailor their working hours without forfeiting their prospects or their job. Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, insists that the move will deliver change within a single generation which otherwise might not have occurred for 20 years. The employer will either agree or will go through a procedure which allegedly demonstrates that he or she has a sound business reason for refusing. As a last resort the issue will go to a tribunal. However, the law will only apply to parents of children under six or to those with disabled children under 18. The results of the new law will be monitored and reviewed in three years time.

SOCIAL INSURANCE AND THE CONTRIBUTORY PRINCIPLE: A PARADOX IN CONTEMPORARY BRITISH SOCIAL POLICY

J. Clasen

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 35, 2001, p. 641-657

The social insurance system of the UK is distinctive, combining an earnings-related contributory funding basis with an egalitarian flat-rate entitlement structure aimed at alleviating poverty. Despite its increasing irrelevance as a form of social protection, there is little controversy or debate about national insurance in the UK. This is partly due to NI's obscure nature. In European countries, by contrast, the main purpose of social insurance is wage replacement, not alleviating poverty. Provision of minimum incomes for the poor is organised under arrangements outside of social insurance. This structure encourages greater public interest and involvement in matters of social insurance.

YOUNG PEOPLE, HOUSING BENEFIT AND THE RISK SOCIETY

P. A. Kemp and J. Rugg

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 35, 2001, p. 688-700

The "single room rent" restriction in housing benefit applies to single people under 25 living in privately rented housing. Using data from qualitative interviews in six locations in England, the paper examines young people's ability to gain access to and afford privately rented accommodation while receiving housing benefit. It argues that the "single room rent" restriction has not only cut their housing benefit entitlement but also created more uncertainty for young people.

THE SOCIAL FUND: UNLUCKY FOR MOST

C. Craig

Community Care, Nov. 29rd - Dec. 5th 2001, p. 36-38

Argues that the Social Fund has utterly failed in its objective of providing vulnerable people with help with exceptional expenses. Chances of obtaining help from the fund vary significantly between areas, from month to month, and between differing population groups in ways unrelated to need.

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