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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2003): Social Security - UK

BENEFIT CHANGEOVER COULD BRING CHAOS, MPs TOLD

M. Harrison

Independent, Dec. 4th 2002, p. 21

The changeover to paying state benefits direct into bank accounts from April 2003 could result in chaos because not enough has been done to train postmasters and educate claimants. There has been confusion over which government department should take the lead and preparations for the changeover are behind schedule.

CHILDCARE POLICY FAILS TO HELP POOR

L. Ward

The Guardian, December 19th 2002, p.a.

Tax Credits have not fulfilled government hopes, the Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, conceded yesterday. Ms Hewitt said her Department was to investigate why the childcare tax credit system, which helps relatively low-income working parents, pay nursery or childminding costs, has not fulfilled government hopes.

(See also Financial Times, December 19th 2002, p. 2; The Times December 19th 2002, p.10)

CLAIMANTS DRAGGING FEET OVER DIRECT PAYMENT OF BENEFITS

A. Frean

The Times , December 23rd 2002, p.2

The government's plans to save resources and cut fraud by paying all state benefits directly into bank accounts have been thrown into question. Ministers may have to overestimated the willingness of 14 million benefit claimants who rely on giro cheques to switch to electronic methods of payment.

EVALUATION OF WELFARE RIGHTS ADVICE IN PRIMARY CARE: THE GENERAL PRACTICE PERSPECTIVE

R. Harding and others

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 10, 2002, p. 417-422

Income maximisation may reduce enduring poverty-related health inequalities. Specialist welfare rights advice in primary care has been proposed and implemented in some areas, but evaluation data from the general practice perspective is needed. Present study used a postal questionnaire to elicit information on the processes of identifying and meeting welfare needs and outcomes in terms of efficiency of provision. Surgeries with welfare rights advisers were more likely to report that current provision was adequate, that staff and patients could easily access advice, and that the process of advice provision ran smoothly. Surgeries wished provision to be expanded.

INCAPACITY BENEFT CLAIMS RISE 25% AMONG YOUNGSTERS DESPITE REFORMS

S. Briscoe and J Guthrie

Financial Times, Dec 13th 2002, p. 2

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions revealed an increase of 25 per cent in youngsters claiming incapacity benefit. One in 15 of the working age population is receiving the benefit provided for those too ill to work despite the reforms which have been introduced which are supposed to make it harder to claim.

INLAND REVENUE: TAX CREDITS

Public Accounts Committee

London: TSO, 2002 (House of Commons Papers, Session 2001/02; HC 866)

The cost of setting up the system of tax credits for the low paid will reach £1bn over the next four years. The current system is also open to abuse, with the Inland Revenue, which oversees it, having no information about how much companies are actually handing over to low-paid staff. A new system of safeguards needs to be set up to prevent fraud, including opening company accounts for inspection by the National Audit Office.

PERMITTED WORK: PROCEEDURAL INFORMATION FOR DISABILITY ORGANISATIONS

Department for Work and Pensions

London: 2002

Contains information on the new permitted work rules for people claiming Incapacity Benefit and sets out the Department for Work and Pensions staff procedures. Includes details of the revised earnings limit from October 2002, information on the effect of the National Minimum Wage and clarification of supported permitted work.

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