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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2004): Social Security - UK

EXPERIENCES AND CONSEQUENCES OF BEING REFUSED A COMMUNITY CARE GRANT

E. Kempson, S. Collard and S. Taylor

Department for Work and Pensions, 2004 (Research report; no.210)

Report examines what happens when people are refused a Social Fund Community Care Grant or only receive a partial award. Found that most people did not request a review when their application was refused. Instead they applied for a Social Fund loan or turned to family or friends for help. A fifth of respondents borrowed money commercially to buy the items they had applied for. People who received a partial award were left with an average shortfall of £600. They covered this by buying second-hand goods or saving up.

GETTING IT RIGHT: IMPROVING DECISION-MAKING AND APPEALS IN SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2004 (House of Commons papers, session 2003/04; HC406)

Finds that the complexity of the benefits system remains a major problem and is a key factor affecting performance. Skills of decision-makers need to be enhanced through better training and wider experience. Too few decisions are right first time, with a error rate of 50% for Disability Living Allowance. There are also regional differences in decision making practices that may lead to payments to people who are not eligible for benefits.

INLAND REVENUE: TAX CREDITS

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2004, (House of Commons Papers, session 2003/04: HC89)

The government introduced a new system of tax credits in April 2003. The introduction of the new scheme brought a number of problems for several hundred thousand claimants who were not paid on time, for employers who made some of the payments, and for the Inland Revenue. The problems were due in large part to deficiencies in IT systems. There are also serious problems with overpayments, which are estimated to be running at 10-14% by value.

LABOUR OFFERS FATHERS SIX MONTHS' PAID LEAVE

R. Garner

The Independent, May 28th 2004, p.20

Fathers may be guaranteed the right to take six months of paid paternity leave from work by a future Labour government. Margaret Hodge, the Minister for Children, told a seminar last night that the move would allow new fathers to make a bond with their babies. At present mothers are allowed six months of paid maternity leave and fathers are allowed two weeks off unpaid.

(See also The Guardian, May 28th 2004, p.3)

NOW YOU SEE IT

R. Wilson

Community Care, May 6th-12th 2004, p.40-41

Tax credits for working people on low incomes are administered by the Inland Revenue. This body makes a rough and ready calculation and begins payment of the credit. If it later spots a mistake, payments can be drastically reduced or stopped without warning to recoup overpayments.

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