Archive for the ‘Social Welfare Benefits’ Category

Government focus on the causes of poverty

jeudi, octobre 15th, 2015

Here’s an interesting article by Tim Montgomerie in The Times of 15th October, 2015 on

« Lies, damned lies and poverty statistics »:

« The Tory plan is to supplement income-based measures of poverty with assessments of ?life chances?. Applying the five pathways to poverty that the Centre for Social Justice popularised, ministers will be required to focus on joblessness, educational failure, family breakdown, indebtedness and addiction as the causes of poverty. »

« The illusion that poverty is in retreat just because benefits have been increased by 2, 5 or 10 per cent will be buried. Poverty only retreats on a sustainable basis if the private sector creates jobs, if pupils acquire real skills and if more children live in happy, stable homes. There will no longer just be a speedometer on the welfare dashboard ? there?ll be a fuel gauge, a sat-nav and a lot more warning lights. The drive against poverty will, it is hoped, get a good deal more sophisticated. »

David Cameron in Birmingham – by Michael Webster

mercredi, octobre 8th, 2014

Prime Minister David Cameron is to be congratulated on the excellent speech he delivered at the Conservative Party’s 2014 conference in Birmingham, in marked contrast with Ed Miliband’s very poor one.

Interesting to note that he has promised $40 billion of spending cuts over two years, compared with French President Hollande’s $60 billion, and specifies these will come especially from Welfare, which M. Hollande is unlikely to dare to do.

Mr Cameron has at the same time promised tax cuts. This he is able to do because of the successful revival of the British economy. The IMF has just reported very favourably on it, withdrawing its previous criticisms of the austerity policy and stating that the country had emerged from the financial crisis and was due to grow at a faster rate than any other developed nation.

This is such a contrast with the lack-lustre French economy and the now faltering German one, that it should prove to be a vital factor which will win us the election.

Michael Webster,
BCiP member

Welfare Benefits – Separating Fact from Fiction

vendredi, avril 12th, 2013

With the Welfare debate developing as a key policy differentiator between the major political parties, the on-line Guardian newspaper on Saturday 6th April, 2013 carried the interesting article below on the overall benefits system in Britain:
Benefits in Britain: separating the facts from the fiction

« For 2011-12 it is estimated that 0.8%, or £1.2bn, of total benefit expenditure was overpaid as a result of fraud. This is far lower than the figures widely believed by the public, as revealed repeatedly in opinion polls. A TUC poll recently revealed that people believe 27% of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently.

Hard to judge, and hard to generalise. There is a lot of movement in and out of work, so many Job Seekers Allowance claims are very short. More than 80% of claimants never go near the work programme because they aren’t on the benefit for long enough. A lot are off it in under six months. For disability benefits, there are a lot more long-term claimants, of course. In 2012, 18% of working-age households were workless; in only 2% had no one ever worked. More than half of adults in households where no one has ever worked were under 25. So although the proportion of households where no one has ever worked has increased recently, it is likely to be a manifestation of high and rising young adult unemployment. »

This has been followed by an article in the on-line Sun newspaper on Sunday 7th April:
Brits say benefits are too generous. Poll backs Tories’ attack on State handouts.

« SIX out of ten voters think State handouts are far too generous, a poll reveals today.
In a massive vote of confidence for David Cameron?s blitz on benefits, they think the PM is right to CUT them.
Most people believe at least HALF of claimants are not in genuine need and don?t deserve any help.

And they think striving families struggling on low incomes are being squeezed at their expense.
The huge public support for an overhaul of the welfare state is spelled out in a YouGov poll for The Sun. »

Then Alister Heath writing in the on-line City A.M. Monday of 8th April, 2013 sums it all up quite well by bringing together what he terms the HYSTERIA surrounding reform of financial services and welfare in his article:
Facts are vital to the debate on welfare and banking reforms.

« With some caveats, I?m broadly in favour of the coalition?s reforms to the welfare state, and wish the changes went further. Instead of helping the most vulnerable get back on their feet, the present system all too often traps them in poverty; it is also unfair to those who work. But I?m worried about Iain Duncan Smith?s decision to rely on complex computer systems, an area in which governments tend to fail.
What is clear is that the case for a return to personal responsibility should be made without seeking to demonise the vast majority of those on benefits. Nobody should feel the need to exaggerate the present system?s many woes. »

The Conservative party is currently « making the political weather » as they say and leading Labour on the issue of welfare reform. However, with the public generally in favour but apprehensive about the actual impact on individual hardship cases, there’s a need to concentrate on the facts and ensure successful implementation of the new welfare benefits system before the May 2015 General Election.

Public perception of an issue is important in politics but getting it wrong will make it too easy for Labour, very much on the defensive, to respond with e.g. their pantomime « nasty party » label for the Tories and throw away a clear lead with the public on this issue in the opinion polls.

Social Welfare & Benefits

mercredi, novembre 17th, 2010

The government budget cuts and the expected associated job losses particularly in the public sector, will put pressure on the social welfare budget due to the increased payments in unemployment benefits. This makes the recent announcement by Ian Duncan Smith of his proposed radical reform of the benefits system in the government white paper – Universal Credit: Welfare that Works – even more important.
This is another measure introduced under the umbrella of fairness. Put another way, the current system must seem unfair to ordinary working people on low to moderate incomes obliged to pay what appear to be high taxes to support certain people who, it is commonly believed, could work but choose not to. In Britain today some 7.2 million adults and children live in homes entirely reliant on benefit, according to the Office of National Statistics. In parallel the total welfare budget has increased by almost 40% since 1996 to £87 billion in 2009/10. Over the same period, some 4 million jobs have been created but 70% went to immigrants with unemployed British people either not able/qualified or not willing to do such jobs.
In essence the government is proposing a Universal Credit System which will bring together the existing work-related and out-of-work benefits into one payment by 2013/14. Disability living allowance and child benefit will not be affected by these measures. The aim is to ensure that people will always be better off working and better off for every hour worked, the latter particularly important in the case of part-time workers. It is also intended to reduce fraud and make claiming/paying out simpler & fairer, whilst applying sanctions where necessary to encourage the less responsive unemployed back into work (excluding of course the really vulnerable with disabilities, mental illnesses and other issues severely limiting their activities).
There will of course be problems, first of all from the current lack of opportunities in the job market. There will also be difficulties experienced by people trying to fairly administer the new system. By what criteria for example will a job offer be judged reasonable in the case of a claimant refusing to take it up? What evidence will be required to demonstrate a continuous and serious search for employment? The current economic downturn is also severely restricting the ability of job seekers to move to where employment prospects are better, when they find their homes are worth less than the mortgage (even in the United States where the job market has been traditionally more flexible due to the mobility of the American worker). It will be easier to log actual attendance at mandatory courses and serious application to the retraining opportunity presented. However, an efficient and countywide IT system would appear essential to back up all this effort and keep track of all the individual cases and any changes of location aimed at trying to circumvent the system.
There is talk of the development of a pernicious welfare culture which, together with the disappearance of the jobs associated with the old industrial base in the UK, has eroded the traditional working class family pride in gainful employment and increased the reliance on state benefits. Instead, many people seem to have no shame in claiming unemployment benefit whilst avoiding work or alternatively working in the black-economy whilst still claiming benefits. Such an attempt to reform the current unemployment benefit system which now supports nearly 2 million children growing up in workless households and at the same time detrimental to their general social mobility (see Categories/Chairman?s Blog/Social Mobility in the right hand index column), can only be welcomed.