Welfare trends report

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Office for Budget Responsibility
Office for Budget Responsibility
Date of publication
1 October 2014
Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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This is the first Welfare trends report, a new annual publication that will examine trends in spending on different elements of the welfare system, including those items that will be subject to the Government’s new ‘welfare cap’. Reflecting the remit that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has been given by Parliament – to focus on the public finances – the report does not consider the impact of the welfare system on the distribution of income or on measures of poverty. This report:

  • Focuses on spending delivered through the benefits system (managed by the Department for Work and Pensions across Great Britain) and the tax credits and child benefit systems (managed by HM Revenue and Customs across the whole of the UK). It does not consider benefits-in-kind, for example social housing, education, and healthcare.
  • Considers spending both in cash terms – as the welfare cap is a cash ceiling – and as a share of GDP – which is more relevant for the sustainability of the public finances. It says much less about real-terms spending and spending per head.
  • Looks in detail at trends over the past 30 years and in the five-year forecast period of the March 2014 Economic and fiscal outlook (EFO), as well as providing a summary of long-term prospects contained in the July 2014 Fiscal sustainability report (FSR);
  • Provides greater detail about the judgements and assumptions that underpin OBR’s latest medium-term forecast and the risks and uncertainties to which they are subject.
  • Draws out the broad themes that help explain fluctuations in welfare spending over the past and in the medium-term forecast and long-term projections.

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