Making a contribution: social security for the future

Making a contribution: social security for the future
Document type
Paper
Author(s)
Bell, Kate; Gaffney, Declan
Publisher
TUC
Date of publication
4 May 2012
Series
Touchstone Pamphlets. Number 12
Subject(s)
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business
Collection
Business and management
Material type
Reports

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This pamphlet addresses some of the misunderstandings about the social security system in the UK. One of the pillars of the social security system designed by William Beveridge was a 'contributory principle': you had to pay National Insurance contributions to get most benefits. This principle is very relevant to today's debate about social security. Many people believe that the system now promotes a 'something for nothing' culture and encourages worklessness. At the same time, they suspect that it fails to provide sufficiently for those who have contributed. Some of this criticism is based on simple misunderstandings. At the same time as support for benefits has decreased, the social security system has demanded more of claimants and rates of benefit receipt have fallen substantially. Some of the criticisms are mistaken, but that does not prevent social security from facing a crisis of public confidence. The problem, argues the pamphlet, is not so much that the system offers something in return for nothing, but that it offers virtually nothing in return for something: the National Insurance contributions paid by the great majority of working people.

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