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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2000): Social Security - UK

THE 1999 CHILD SUPPORT WHITE PAPER

Social Security Committee

London: TSO, 1999 (House of Commons papers. Session 1998-99; HC798)

Committee recommends that, high-earning divorced mothers should have child support payments from fathers means-tested. Report also rejects government proposals to jail absent parents who fail to pay child support and brands plans to seek child support payments from fathers under 16 "an unacceptable diversion of resources". Committee also recommends that there should be no upper limit on child support payments, and that the new system should only be introduced when a new computer system was in place.

DRIVING LICENCE THREAT TO ABSENT FATHERS WHO DODGE MAINTENANCE

J. Hibbs

Daily Telegraph, Dec. 2nd 1999, p. 19

Outlines various sanctions to be imposed on absent fathers who default on child maintenance payments under the terms of the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill.

(See also Times, Nov. 30th 1999, p. 14; Independent, Nov. 30th 1999, p. 8; Daily Telegraph, Nov. 30th 1999, p. 15)

MINISTERS SHELVE REFORM OF £11BN HOUSING BENEFITS

R. Shrimsley and A. Sparrow

Daily Telegraph, Dec. 6th 1999, p. 6

Reform of the housing benefit system has been shelved for the duration of this Parliament, as it is feared that planned changes would be too costly and complex. Problems foreseen include the impact of reforms on property prices, the likelihood of back bench revolts and the fact that social landlords would have to be compensated for income lost due to reductions in housing benefit.

(See also Independent, Dec. 6th 1999, p. 1)

MOTHERS EXPLOIT CHILDCARE LOOPHOLE

A. Frean

Times, Nov. 16th 1999, p. 2

Reports that parents have signed up for nursery places for their children, completed the necessary paperwork to claim the childcare tax credit, then failed to take up the places or pay any fees while pocketing the money.

SILENT DEATH OF NATIONAL INSURANCE

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Nov. 22nd 1999, p. 21

Argues that national insurance is increasingly becoming a con, in that the return on contributions is becoming increasingly unrelated to the amount put in. Contributions in effect function as another form of income tax.

SOCIAL SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF PARENTAL LEAVE

Social Security Committee

London: TSO, 1999 (House of Commons papers. Session 1998-99; HC 543)

Inquiry examines whether the introduction of unpaid parental leave has any implications for the individual's entitlement to social security benefits and whether there is a case for the introduction of a paid leave element through a new social security benefit or tax credit. Recommends that the government should introduce a flat-rate method of payment for those taking parental leave as take-up is likely to be very low unless there is an element of payment.

SPENDING PLANS LEAVE CARE PROFESSIONALS COLD

N. Huber

Community Care, no. 1299, 1999, p. 10-11

Reports that while the social services sector welcomes children's services initiatives such as the Children's Fund, there is concern that the plight of the poorest could be worsened by measures announced in the Chancellor's pre-budget statement. The meagre increases in existing benefits such as income support, and plans to decrease the benefits of parents who refuse jobs under the New Deal could make child poverty worse.

TASKFORCE PROBES BENEFITS FRAUD

S. Briscoe

Financial Times, Nov. 11th 1999, p. 4

The taskforce on the hidden economy announced in the Chancellor's pre-budget report, will look first at the scale of the problems, and will then recommend action to reduce the number of people evading taxes and defrauding the benefits system.

WELFARE REFORM WILL PENALISE ABSENT FATHERS

P. Webster, M. Kite and T. Baldwin

Times, Nov. 15th 1999, p. 12

Reports government plans to impose criminal sanctions on absent fathers who refuse to support their children, to withdraw benefits from offenders who fail to comply with their community service orders, and to identify prospective claimants of incapacity benefit and direct them back to work.

(See also Independent, Nov. 15th 1999, p. 2; Guardian, Nov. 15th 1999, p. 1; Financial Times, Nov. 15th 1999, p. 3)

WELFARE WEASELS

J. Grieve Smith

Guardian, Dec. 2nd 1999, p. 22

The New Labour government leans towards keeping social security costs down by means testing benefits and targeting them on the most needy, rather than paying them as of right out of social insurance. This is incompatible with their avowed aim of creating a fairer society.

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