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

BIRTH OF A SALESMAN

J. Hirst

Public Finance, Feb.18th-24th 2005, p.30-31

Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson discusses his plans to reform Incapacity Benefit and encourage claimants to return to work through individually tailored packages of support. There will be personal advisers at GP surgeries helping to break down the "sick note culture". He also explains his plans for a universal state pension based on residency qualifications rather than on National Insurance contributions.

MENTAL HEALTH CLAIMANTS FEAR SLIDE INTO POVERTY IN BENEFITS SHAKE-UP

C. Kenny

Community Care, Feb.10th-16th 2005, p.16-17

Government's proposed reform of Incapacity Benefit (IB) would mean people with the most severe conditions receiving a higher rate allowance and not being required to look for work. People with more manageable conditions would be expected to engage in training or work preparation and face sanctions for non-cooperation. There are fears that people with severe mental illness who are not physically unfit could be penalised under this system.

NOW FOR THE HARD PART …

M.Ivory

Community Care, Feb.24th-Mar.2nd 2005, p.30-33

The government has set itself the target of eradicating child poverty by 2020. Its strategy so far has been to get parents off social security and back to work. Unfortunately they often have few marketable skills and end up in low paid, dead end jobs. In order to lift more families out of poverty, government will be forced to raise benefits such as income support and offer free childcare places.

OPPORTUNITY AND SECURITY THROUGHOUT LIFE: DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS FIVE YEAR STRATEGY

London: TSO, 2005 (Cm 6447)

Announces plans to reform Incapacity Benefit:

  • institution of an initial holding benefit for those too sick to work. This would be paid at the same rate as Jobseekers' Allowance;
  • a medical assessment would lead to payment of one of two allowances. The majority would receive a rehabilitation allowance that would require claimants to attend work focused interviews, in return for which they would receive extra payments. At interview, each claimant would agree an action plan, fulfilment of which would lead to further bonus payments;
  • people with severe impairments would get a disability and sickness allowance;
  • the new system would apply to new claimants only.

REFORM OF BENEFITS SYSTEM AIMS TO GET A FURTHER 1M BACK TO WORK

T. Baldwin and P. Webster

The Times, Feb. 2nd 2004, p.8,27

Predicts that government will scrap Incapacity Benefit for new claimants. Instead, separate allowances will be created for "rehabilitation support" and "disability and sickness" payments for those who cannot work due to severe impairment. People receiving rehabilitation allowances will no longer have their benefits automatically increased after 12 months out of work as those on Incapacity Benefit currently do. Instead, a new system of bonuses and incentives will be offered to people who find jobs or complete rehabilitation programmes.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Feb. 2nd 2005, p.10; The Independent, Feb. 2nd 2005, p.19)

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