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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2005): Social Security - UK

CLAIMS MOST COMMON IN AILING COMMUNITIES

J. Guthrie

Financial Times, Dec. 16th 2004, p.6

Incapacity benefit, the state hand-out to 2.5 million people deemed too ill or disabled to work, might just as well be named industrial collapse compensation. Uncomfortably for a government bent on reducing the £6.8bn cost, but wary of recognising a north-south divide, the claimant count is highest in Welsh, Scottish and northern English communities damaged by industrial decline. The top locations included Glasgow, Liverpool and six of the top ten locations stretch across South Wales.

HARDENING ATTITUDES TO BENEFITS MESH WITH GOVERNMENT POLICY

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Dec. 7th 2004, p.4

Attitudes to welfare benefits on the left of the political spectrum have hardened markedly over the past 15 years, leaving the Labour government's "rights and responsibilities" approach to welfare well attuned to the views of the electorate, the annual British Social Attitudes Survey has found. How far Tony Blair's "New Labour" approach has brought this change, and how far Labour has simply moved with the electorate is hard to disentangle.

HAS LABOUR MADE WORK PAY?

M. Brewer and A. Shephard

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004

Report focuses on the impact of Labour's making work pay agenda on families with children. Analysis shows that tax and benefit changes have overall helped lone parents but reduced work incentives for couples with children.

INCAPACITY BENEFIT COULD BE REPLACED

B. Hall

Financial Times, Dec. 16th 2004, p.6

Incapacity benefit might be replaced with a flat-rate allowance in order to cut the number of long-term sick and disabled persons on welfare. The proposals, expected to be included in the work and pensions five- year plan due next month, are aimed at cutting the number claiming sickness benefit, which, ministers say, has remained stubbornly high, even as unemployment continued to fall. Under the current system, incapacity benefit rises from £56 a week to £66 after six months and to £74 after 12. A flat rate would remove any incentive to stay on the benefit for new claimants

INCAPACITY BENEFIT REFORMS: THE PERSONAL ADVISER ROLE AND PRACTICES

S. Dickens, A. Mowlam and K. Woodfield

[London]: National Centre for Social Research, 2004

Research examines the role of Incapacity Benefit Personal Advisers within the Incapacity Benefit reforms' "Pathways to Work" pilots. Covers the Personal Adviser role , customer reactions and the Work Focused Interview process.

LOW PAY, HOUSEHOLD RESOURCES AND POVERTY

J. Millar and K. Gardiner

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004

Study investigated the extent of low pay in the UK, and explored the relationship between individual low pay and household poverty, hours of work, benefits, tax credits and other sources of household income. Found that about 14% of low paid employees live in poverty. Different groups of low paid workers escape poverty in various different ways:

  • among single people on low pay, the incomes of other household members, typically parents, are most likely to stave off poverty;
  • low paid lone mothers are most likely to escape poverty through tax credits and benefits;
  • low paid people in dual earner couples commonly avoid poverty because of their partners' earnings. Where partners do not work, tax credits and benefits can help if the couple have children.

MOST INCAPACITY BENEFIT CLAIMANTS COULD WORK, SAYS MINISTER

P. Wintour

The Guardian, Dec. 15th 2004, p.13

Nearly two-thirds of the 2.7 million people who claim incapacity benefit could work, the Welfare Minister, Jane Kennedy, has claimed. Speaking at a Social Market Foundation seminar, she said a third of claimants could work immediately and another third in the longer term. Only the final third of claimants of the benefit, which costs taxpayers £6.9bn a year, could not work at all, she said.

NHS FUNDING FOR LONG-TERM CARE: FOLLOW UP REPORT

Health Service Ombudsman for England

London: TSO, 2004 (House of Commons papers, session 2004/05; HC144)

Based on the evidence gathered from almost 4000 complaints received since February 2003, report highlights problems faced by disabled and elderly people in accessing NHS funding for long-term care. Argues that the creation of national minimum eligibility criteria, a national set of assessment tools, and the right skills and capacity at local level to use them should help patients gain the funding to which they are entitled.

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