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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2006): Social security - UK

Child support: back to the drawing board

N. Wikeley

Family Law, vol.36, 2006, p.312-316

Article offers a summary of the history of the Child Support Agency and various failed attempts to reform it

Child support: looking to the future

N. Wikeley

Family Law, vol.36, 2006, p.360-365

The government has charged Sir David Henshaw with the task of redesigning the child support system. This paper sketches out some of the issues that Sir David will have to tackle, including the possible role of HM Revenue and Customs, introduction of a guaranteed maintenance scheme, the role of the courts, imposition of tougher sanctions for non-payment, and simplifying the present Byzantine system of decision-making.

Forcing sick and disabled people back to work?

Anon

Labour Research, vol.95, May 2006, p.14-16

Unions fear that government reforms of social security will mean that sick and disabled people will be forced back to work under threat of having their benefits cut. There are also concerns about proposed further privatisation of services, and that any positive initiatives will be under-resourced.

Incapacity benefits and pathways to work

Work and Pensions Committee

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06; HC616)

The report examines the Green Paper on welfare reform, which puts forward the Government’s proposals for helping more ill, or disabled people move into employment. The Green Paper sets out the Government’s aspiration to reduce the number of people claiming incapacity benefits by one million within the decade. This will be achieved by redesigning the gateway to incapacity benefits – the Personal Capability Assessment (PCA) - and replacing the current incapacity benefits with a new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The ESA will be paid to most people in return for attending work-focused interviews and agreeing an action plan. Those with more severe illnesses or disabilities will have no conditions attached to receipt of their benefit, which will be paid at a higher rate. The committee recommends that the Department for Work and Pensions, and its service providers, need to actively promote claimants to employers and strive to change the misconceptions that many employers have about disabled people and the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Tackling the complexity of the benefits system

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06; HC765)

The complexity of the benefits system is a key factor affecting the performance of the Department for Work and Pensions (the Department). Its consequence is a high level of error by staff and customers. It also helps create a climate in which fraud can more easily take place and go undetected. The Department recognises that complexity is a problem and has taken steps to reduce it, for instance in simplifying claim processes for several benefits, better sharing of information with local authorities, and using technology to protect customers from complexity. However, these are piecemeal developments and it is difficult to tell whether the system as a whole has become more or less complex as there is currently no objective way of measuring it. The Department intends to give greater priority to tackling complexity. It will report to Parliament annually on actions taken and is setting up a small Benefit Simplification Unit.

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