Reforming the UK family tax and benefits system

Document type
Peter Saunders
Policy Exchange
Date of publication
17 June 2009
Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Families, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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This report argues that changes in family structure require changes in family policies aimed at poverty alleviation.  It outlines these structural changes and the legacy of family support policies introduced following the Beveridge report, before critically examining the arguments for why governments should support families.  The paper goes on to discuss whether welfare should be conditional (for example, on good parenting) and what family policy should be trying to achieve.  Delivery methods of assistance (eg. through the tax system or cash benefits) are discussed in some detail, before current methods of support are analysed.  The report concludes with some proposals to reform the family welfare system.  These include the reintroduction of tax allowances for dependent children and non-working spouses, to replace tax credits for all but the lowest income working families.  This change would reverse the situation where many parents now pay higher taxes to the government and then have to apply to get their money back as fortnightly hand-outs; a system seen as undermining the independence and self-reliance of families.

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