Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘DWP

BBC Panorama Shows Tory Universal Credit Regime “setting up some claimants ‘to fail’ .”

with 75 comments

Image

 

Ipswich Unemployed Action, and many of our contributors, have said that the issues around Universal Credit have not made much of an impact during the election.

Anybody who wants to know what Boris Johnson thinks of people less well-off or protected than himself – from NHS patients to us lot – could see the man himself in action yesterday.

Last night the BBC screened this programme, (originally it was listed for the week before) that went into how Universal Credit (UC) affects people’s lives.

The BBC faces criticisms for allowing the likes of Johnson ample room to spout his opinions. Some say that the media are slanted towards the Tories.

But Universal Credit – One Year On with Catrin Nye is a thorough, moving demolition of the Tory Universal Credit system, from the sanctions regime, to the mess it has left many claimants in.

At the start of the programme we were told that Universal Credit  is designed to simplify social security and other benefits.

It intends to “make work pay”.

What Catrin Nye showed is that UC is also made to make those out of work, disabled or unemployed, pay in financial misery.

It is made to make people out of well paid full time employment suffer.

It also illustrated how those in work who still need some help get trapped in a long list of difficulties.

Keith, who has mental health issues, came up with a topic many know all too well – how the all “on line” system is a barrier in itself.

Panorama looked at the reality behind the  massive increase in the numbers of  people paying off debts (from rent arrears to UC loans).

Case studies of those trapped in its clutches, reduced to scrambling for money, illustrated just how damaging UC is.

One striking thing was that advice agencies, like the CAB and Shelter, are now acting as full-time case workers to help those in need.

Families, not well off themselves,  are forced to come to the rescue.

These real life stories are probably more effective than any high-sounding political speech in showing what’s wrong with Universal Credit.

To put it simply, UC is, as many have claimed before, “setting people up to fail”.

The BBC is to be congratulated for this excellent programme. 

 

 

 

Universal credit is setting up some claimants “to fail”, charity staff have told BBC’s Panorama.

BBC.

Since October 2017, the Department for Work and Pensions says 60% of eligible new claimants have been given an advance or loan to help them manage the five-week wait for their first payment.

The DWP deducts money from claimants’ monthly benefit payment to repay this, as well as other debts they might have.

But after deductions are made, many say they are “struggling” to cope.

Housing charity Shelter says deductions for rent arrears are now double what they were under the old system.

The DWP says they have put safeguards in place to make sure repayments are affordable.

When universal credit was first announced in 2010, the then Work and Pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said it would replace a “complex, outdated and wildly expensive system”.

It combined six benefits – child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, jobseekers’ allowance, employment and support allowance and working tax credit – into one.

The government said the new system was designed to make work pay and encourage people, some of them the most vulnerable in society, to manage their own finances.

Flintshire in north Wales was one of the first areas to test the new system.

Last year, BBC Panorama visited the area and found people struggling to adjust.

Since then, the government has made changes and Panorama has returned to see how claimants are managing.

A year ago, Keith, who has mental health problems, was at risk of losing his home.

Universal credit encourages people to manage their own finances – including making their own rent payments – but he was struggling to cope and was behind with the rent on his council house.

Today, Keith has managed to hold onto his home after housing charity Shelter helped him change the way his benefits are paid.

The housing element of his benefit cheque now goes direct to his landlord, the council.

He is one of 2.6 million people on universal credit across the country

By the end of 2023, the Department for Work and Pensions says the system will be fully rolled out

It expects some seven million households to be claiming the new benefit.

Debt Repayment.

To repay the debts Keith built up to cover his rent, he has money deducted from his universal credit payments every month.

As a result, he has less to live on. He told BBC Panorama: “It’s a struggle”.

Victoria Tomlinson, the Shelter advisor who helped Keith with his rent arrears, says the system is routinely taking double the deductions compared to what happened previously.

She told Panorama that tenants with arrears should pay them back, but added, “you can’t make somebody pay something when they don’t have it”. If the repayments are too high “then you’re setting them up to fail”.

The programme met others who say they too are struggling with debt under universal credit.

Helen Barnard, deputy director of policy and partnerships at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, told the BBC many claimants can be out of pocket from the start because they have to wait for their first payment.

“This all starts really with the fact that there is a minimum five-week wait at the beginning of your claim before your income comes through, so what’s offered is an advance – which is a loan,” she said.

“So what that does is pulls people into debt right at the beginning of their claim.”

Rebecca and her young family moved into a council flat in north Wales in February last year and couldn’t afford a lot of the basics for their new home

Her partner is a chef but his work is irregular so the couple depend on benefits.

Family help

“We needed everything. The only thing we had was a bed and a cot, that was literally it.

“So I reached out to universal credit and I was like, well, I’m going to have to get a loan out,” Rebecca told the BBC.

She secured an advance and now around £90 is deducted from her benefits every month to repay it, and other debts.

The couple say this leaves them without enough money at the end of every month and they have to turn to Rebecca’s family for help.

The DWP says it has put safeguards in place to make sure repayments are affordable, adding that claimants can contact them to negotiate lower payments and have 12 months to pay back any advances.

But Ms Barnard says that unlike financial institutions, “the Department of Work and Pensions doesn’t have any standard affordability assessment” and the system “assumes” that the person applying for an advance understands how it works.

The DWP says that many tenants on universal credit have pre-existing rent arrears, but the proportion of people with arrears reduces over time

Written by Andrew Coates

December 10, 2019 at 10:03 am

Universal Credit System Breakdown, “Civil servants ‘ashamed’ to work for DWP”.

with 178 comments

A protester in a crime scene outfit crouches by a sign saying universal credit is a crime

This week there were people begging just near to Suffolk College.

They have moved from the Ipswich central shopping streets outwards.

I don’t want to see a country where people have to depend on the kindness of strangers but get decent benefits.

Generous strangers give £26k to Universal Credit mum with just 14p to her name

Mirror today

Hundreds of Britons have offered to help homeless mum Rachel Finn, from Grimsby, after she pulled 14p out of her pocket and said “that’s all our money”

The 39-year-old, who is staying in temporary accommodation with her 18-year-old son, Bradley, has been backed by the likes of pop star Lily Allen.

Her story captured the nation’s attention after she emptied her pockets and put down four 2p pieces and six 1p coins on a table – tearfully saying “that’s all our money” – for a BBC crew reporting on vulnerable and low-income voters in Grimsby.

This is the I today,

Jasmine Andersson

I’m a working single mother who receives Universal Credit, and I’ve had to take my daughter to friends’ houses so we can eat

Sporadic Universal Credit payments and nursery fees have landed her in thousands of pounds of debt.

A working single parent has been taking her daughter to friends’ houses to eat to because she can’t afford to meet the family’s living costs.

Ayo, 29, a communications worker, owes money to debtors, her family and friends because she cannot afford to cover nursery costs for her two-year-old daughter’s nursery bills.

Although Ayo returned to work after she gave birth to her daughter in 2017, her debt has been compounded by missed Universal Credit paymentsnursery fees and rent arrears, leaving her living pay-cheque to pay-cheque.

The young woman, who lives in Hammersmith, London, told i she fell into debt because of her childcare bills.

“When I fell pregnant, I was in a job for less than 26 weeks, so I was only entitled to statutory maternity pay. Because I was entitled to statutory maternity pay, I couldn’t receive any Universal Credit, so I couldn’t get a sure start grant to cover my childcare costs,” she said.

“I went back to work, so I had to find a nursery to look after my daughter. I had to pay a registration fee. I was lucky to pay just one nursery registration fee, because if there’s a waiting list, a lot of parents have to pay more. On top of that, I had to pay a month’s deposit, and a one month nursery fee in advance.

No wonder this is happening: (5th of December).

Civil servants described to colleagues how they were “ashamed” to work for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) because of the experiences of their own relatives when claiming universal credit, leaked documents have revealed.

The thoughts of DWP civil servants were shared with colleagues on the department’s intranet earlier this year, and they have now been passed to Disability News Service.

They appear to destroy DWP’s continuing insistence that UC “is a force for good” and that it has overwhelming support from its own staff.

In all, three separate civil servants used the DWP intranet in early May to criticise the way their own relatives had been treated while attempting to claim UC.

It comes as Labour has promised to scrap UC if it wins next week’s general election, as has the Green party, while the Conservatives have pledged to “continue the roll-out”, and the Liberal Democrats have said they would try to improve the system.

A DWP staff member who passed the comments to DNS said he wanted the public to know that many of his colleagues did not share the views of Conservative ministers like work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey, who insists that universal credit (UC) “provides a safeguard for the most vulnerable in our society”.

Instead, he said, many of his colleagues were concerned about the flaws in the system, which is gradually being rolled out by the government and has been described as “toxic” by disabled campaigners and linked to “soaring” rates of sanctions and foodbank use in areas where it has been introduced.

The comments were made on the DWP intranet, which is open to all staff members, in response to an update headlined “Universal Credit – the myth busters get to work”, which was posted by a senior member of staff on 2 May.

Soon after the discussion, a DWP memo was leaked to the media and led to widespread outrage when it revealed that the department was planning a national “myth-busting” campaign aimed at dealing with media “negativity and scaremongering” about UC.

The newly-leaked intranet comments appear to show what DWP members of staff really think about UC.

The update had explained how jobcentres had invited local reporters into their offices to “show the reality of the great service we provide within our community”.

But the post drew a scathing response from several staff members over the following week.

One civil servant told colleagues, less than an hour after the original post, that his brother’s experience on UC was “not made up or exaggerated”.

He added: “I was and still am ashamed to work for [a] department that could treat my Brother so poorly. I am sorry to say ‘myth busting’ is another name for propaganda when it comes to Universal Credit

Meanwhile the extreme-right pro-Brexit Express carries this story:

Universal Credit claimants could get £1,200 bonus money – how to get the tax-free cash

UNIVERSAL CREDIT recipients may be able to get additional help with savings under a government scheme. How does the Help to Save scheme work, and who is eligible for this bonus money?

This is what the Tories really think of those less fortunate than themselves:

Here’s what Labour thinks:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2019 at 12:22 pm

Universal Credit Raises Demand for Help, While Tories Cut, and Will Continue to Cut, Advice Funding.

with 89 comments

Universal credit

System that Tories Will Continue Doubles Demand for Advice and Help.

One of the ways the Tories have been running down this country is through cutting back on the money available for essential local services.

Citizens Advice (CAB)  is the last port of call for many people.

With Universal Credit, on-line only, you see libraries being used as, unfunded, a a source of help for people who need to apply through the net.

But anybody with more needs usually goes to the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux, other advice services having been run by local government and other cuts in funding over the years.

A couple of years ago the Guardian published this,

More people are turning to Citizens Advice but there are fewer and fewer places I can refer them to and crisis grants from local authorities are disappearing

This year we saw this in Suffolk, a last minute rescue after the rural bigwigs who run Suffolk County Council cut the CAB funding.

Citizens Advice services in Suffolk thrown lifeline after Clinical Commissioning Groups step up to fill funding gap

Citizens Advice services in Suffolk have been thrown a lifeline after two clinical commissioning groups stepped up to pay the £187,000 that was due to be cut from their funding this year.

Suffolk County Council has proposed the 50 per cent cut to Citizens Advice funding in 2019/20, with a view to cutting it completely next year.

But the joint agreement between the county council, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG and NHS West Suffolk CCG means that funding to the service for the coming year will total £374,000 – the same as last year.

The cuts are part of Suffolk County Council’s plans to save more than £11 million, with the 2019/20 budget due to be discussed at a full meeting on Thursday.

October saw this,

Colchester Citizens Advice centre has funds cut

AN advice centre says it is business as usual despite council funding cuts.

There are fears Citizens Advice Colchester could be forced to reduce services after cuts in Colchester Council’s Voluntary Welfare Grant funding.

The council announced its grant to the advice bureau year will be £25,000 – half of which has already been received.

Since then trustees have met to discuss future arrangements with volunteers.

However, Jo Blyth, operations manager at Citizens Advice Colchester, said nothing is changing yet.

This is happening across the country.

Yet….

Today the BBC reports that the need for CABs continues to grow.

Advice issued on universal credit more than doubled in Scotland in the last year, according to new data.

Citizens Advice Scotland gave guidance 40,000 times in 2018/19, its state of the nation report shows.

It comes as the charity demands the next government helps with the cost of living, especially for low-income households.

Chief executive Derek Mitchell said people were also struggling with debt, social security and energy.

The report also showed the charity gave more than 100,000 pieces of advice issued in relation to debt.

Meanwhile our one time boss is having a merry time:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Why isn’t this a Universal Credit Election?

with 91 comments

Image

There are over 2,300,000 (latest figures, July 2019) people on Universal Credit.

There were 20 million people claiming DWP benefits at August 2018 alone (most recent full figures).

Benefits and Universal Credit should be key election issues.

To take two examples:

Housing benefit no longer enough for struggling families to afford any Ipswich rental properties

Ipswich Star, today,

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism could not find a single two bed property in Ipswich that was affordable on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) during a recent snapshot search.

The TBIJ research found that only one in 20 of the two-bed properties advertised for rent nationally were affordable on LHA. Across most Suffolk and Essex just a fraction of the properties advertised for rent would be affordable on LHA.

It means many families are having to make tough decisions to cope.

LHA is supposed to cover the cheapest 30% of properties in that area. But it was frozen in 2016 as a cost-cutting measure, intended to save £1.3 billion a year, rising to about £1.7 billion by 2020-21.

Although the number of affordable rent homes created in Suffolk has risen over recent years – reaching 500 for the first time in 2017/18 – councils still rely on private landlords to provide much of the housing for benefit recipients.

The article goes into the problems of renting and Local Housing Allowance  – which affects the whole country – in depth.

Read it.

Then there is, something that’s hardly a secret.

Why isn’t this the food bank election?

In the world’s sixth richest country, a record number of people will be starving at Christmas.

A record number of people will use food banks this Christmas. The busiest month for food banks last year was December, and there has been a general rise in food bank use since then (April to September this year saw a 23 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2018). We’re heading for a record high this winter, according to the Trussell Trust food bank charity.

There will also be people who go without income over the Christmas period. Universal Credit, the new welfare system, has a five-week waiting time for the first payment. This delay has not been reduced by the government, despite it driving up food bank use. People applying for Universal Credit now will go without money over the Christmas period, unless they meet tight criteria for an emergency loan.

Chakelian says that this issue – we could add Benefits as such – have not been talked about in the election.

Why?

Perhaps it’s because the Labour party, which is more sympathetic to these things and has tried to come up with answers, is distracted. Perhaps it’s because the Conservatives don’t accept their manifesto is forecasted to bring about record child poverty, or don’t believe they play a part at all. Perhaps it’s because charities that usually campaign on these things have to submit to extra-strict impartiality rules around election time. Perhaps it’s because media outlets decided this would be the “Brexit election”, once and for all.

Perhaps it’s also because many people, that is many amongst those who vote, are not going to be swayed by talking about the real world of Universal Credit, benefits, and poverty.

Let’s follow this example and bring these unwelcome, difficult, subjects, into the election.

Our contributors have plenty of ideas!

A photo highlighting the huge imbalance between Britain’s richest and poorest people has gone viral on Facebook – and generated awareness of homelessness at Christmas.

Posted in the Facebook group ‘Sh*t London’, Cliff Judson’s breathtaking snapshot shows the plush and extravagant display outside House of Fraser’s flagship store on London’s Oxford Street – while homelessness in is on the increase.

The 43-year-old Londoner was aiming to highlight poverty at Christmas time, when there are more visible signs of inequality.

Over a million households on Universal Credit having benefits cut to repay debts and loans.

with 158 comments

How much can be taken from Universal Credit payments? There is an overall maximum percentage rate for all debts and deductions that can be taken from a Universal Credit payment. The maximum amount that can be deducted is an amount equivalent to 30% of the claimant’s Universal Credit standard allowance.

It’s, odd as it seems, an improvement on the previous rate which was 40%.

The new rate came in this October,

The changes mean, from this month, the maximum amount that can be taken out of Universal Credit payments will fall from 40% to 30%.

This means if you’re currently affected by the 40% rate, you will start to see more money coming in every month.

Deductions can be taken out of a person’s Universal Credit entitlement for various reasons, including sanctions and for recovering debts such as arrears on rent and fuel bills.

Universal Credit changes coming into force this month – how they will affect you (Mirror)

But thirty percent is still very stiff, when you realise that the full rate of payment is already the bare minimum to live on.

Hence this story in the Observer.

Million universal credit households ‘do not get full entitlement’

Deductions to cover loans are forcing many to turn to food banks.

More than a million households on universal credit – 60% of everyone receiving the payments –are having their benefits cut to repay debts and loans.

Data sourced under the Freedom of Information Act show that in May – the most recent month for which figures are available – 1,048,000 universal credit claimants had a deduction of their benefit payment out of 1,759,000 claimants who received any universal credit payment that month.

The figures exclude deductions for fraud and sanctions. Nearly a third of all people on the troubled welfare scheme are having more than a fifth of their payment cut, often to repay loans that some claimants received to tide them over during the five-week wait for their first payment to arrive.

Charlotte Hughes, an anti-austerity campaigner who provides support and advice to benefit recipients, said universal credit deductions come up as an issue in her work every day. “Everyone is being hit by deductions in one way, shape or form. I don’t know anybody that actually receives the full amount of money that they’re supposed to get.”

She added that many claimants were having to use food banks as a result. “Your health suffers, your housing situation suffers, you can’t eat properly, you worry, you stress. It’s just never-ending.”

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Our evidence shows many people on universal credit are struggling to make ends meet, and that deductions are contributing to this.” She said the government should introduce affordability tests when recouping debts from claimants.

The story continues,

A separate freedom of information request shows that universal credit claimants who are having their benefits deducted to repay debts and loans owe an average of £903. About 570,000 households owe more than £1,000, including 80,000 people owing more than £5,000.

The largest deductions are often due to overpaid tax credits, incurred when claimants earned more than expected under the existing tax credit system. Many of these debts date back many years.

Minutes of a meeting of welfare rights advisers in October 2018 show that Neil Couling, the head of the universal credit programme, “admitted that the government over the last 18 months has demanded a push to recover old debt and has provided UC with extra funds to do this”.

There is plenty of scope for the DWP’s famous ability to get things wrong.

Sarah, from Lancashire, is one claimant affected by this “push”. Unable to work for health reasons, she lives with her partner and daughter. The government has been deducting more than £100 a month from her universal credit payment, mostly to repay tax credit overpayments dating back to 2009. The level of the deduction changes each month, as does the amount of benefit she receives, making it impossible for her to budget.

“If I owe money I’ll pay it back,” she said. “I have no qualms about paying money back that I owe. But my argument is, ‘Why are they taking such a big chunk of my money?’ Over £150 some months – that’s a lot of money. That’s like two weeks’ worth of shopping, that they’re taking off me and we are running out of food.”

She started claiming universal credit in 2017 after leaving full-time work to become a part-time paid carer for her uncle. A car accident and subsequent diagnosis with osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia forced her out of paid work altogether.

The deductions are forcing her to borrow from her family. “We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. We get our money today, we get our food shopping, we always make sure our bills and everything are paid first, and then we pay back whoever we owe. So we end up with no money left.”

On top of her tax credit debts, she is also having £50 a month deducted for a loan that she never borrowed. After the Observer spoke to the Department for Work and Pensions about Sarah’s case, it accepted that the loan deduction was a mistake and pledged a refund, while agreeing to discuss recovering the tax credit debts at a more affordable rate.

In the meantime DWP MInister  Thérèse Coffey re-tweeted this happy little note;

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2019 at 10:27 am

Labour Manifesto: Scrap Universal Credit and “end poverty by guaranteeing a minimum standard of living.”

with 146 comments

Labour’s Manifesto is out today.

Here is the section our Contributors will focus on.

Image

Social Security.

While Labour wants a society in which people care for one another, the Tories are trying to pitch us against each other.

Under the Tories, the social security system has lost sight of its purpose. Poverty has become endemic, the glue that binds our society together has come unstuck and, in the words of the United Nations, the UK’s social safety net ‘has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos’. The cruelty and heartlessess of the Tories has made the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) a symbol of fear. When people feel the DWP is more about harassment than a helping hand, something has gone seriously wrong.

Labour will completely change this culture, replacing the DWP on day one with a Department for Social Security, which will be there to help and support people, not punish and police them.

Universal Credit

The Tories’ flagship social security programme, Universal Credit (UC), has been a catastrophe. It has pushed thousands of people into poverty, caused families to lose their homes and forced parents to visit food banks in order to feed their children.

Labour will scrap UC.

We will immediately stop moving people onto it and design an alternative system that treats people with dignity and respect.

Our ambition in designing this system will be to end poverty by guaranteeing a minimum standard of living.

We will start developing this system immediately. But we have learned the lessons from Tory failure: major policy change can’t be delivered overnight, especially when people’s lives depend
on it.

So we will also implement an emergency package of reforms to mitigate some of the worst features of UC while we develop our replacement system.

  • We will end the five-week wait by introducing an interim payment based on half an estimated monthly entitlement.
  • We will immediately suspend the Tories’ vicious sanction regime and ensure that employment support is positive not punitive.
  • We will stop 300,000 children from being in poverty by scrapping the benefit cap and the two child limit, so ending the immoral and outrageous ‘rape clause’.
  • We will pay childcare costs up front so that parents aren’t forced to turn down work or get into debt to pay for childcare.
  • Labour will protect women in abusive relationships by splitting payments and paying the child element to the primary carer.
  • We will make it easier for people to manage their living costs by introducing fortnightly payments and paying the housing element directly to landlords.
  •  The Conservative’s ‘digital only’ approach is excluding vulnerable people. Labour will end the digital barrier and offer telephone, face-to-face and outreach support.
  • We will recruit 5,000 additional advisors to deliver this.
  • Tory cuts are pushing people into rent arrears and leaving them at risk of homelessness. We will stop housing costs running away from benefits by scrapping the bedroom tax and increasing the Local Housing Allowance.

In the meantime:

Priti Patel says poverty “isn’t the government’s fault” while stood in a food bank

“Everybody just says it’s the Government as if it’s this sort of like bland blob that you know, you can just go and blame.”

Priti Patel has been criticised for arrogantly dismissing the government’s role in poverty while stood in a food bank in Barrow.

The Home Secretary attempted to push blame onto local authorities during an interview, even though local government has suffered “enormously from vicious Tory cuts”, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said.

When told that four in 10 children in parts of Barrow, Cumbria, are born into poverty, she told BBC North West Tonight: “Well it’s appalling.

“But of course everybody, and it’s not just people in Westminster, it’s not just at a national level it’s at a local level.”

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2019 at 11:57 am

“Social security allowances have hit their lowest relative levels since the creation of the welfare state.”

with 105 comments

Image result for universal credit failure"

Underlying Crisis is Big Drop in Payment Levels.

“This paper will argue that it is time to embrace a more progressive vision of social security in the 21st century. Fundamentally, it would recognise that, in the world’s fifth richest country, a basic minimum standard of living should be a foundation for citizenship. This idea must sit at the heart of the social security system.”

Universal Credit and social security payments have fallen to just 12.5% of average earnings, think tank says

The ‘I’, the paper that many of us buy.

Just out….

 

Universal Credit payments have fallen to just 12.5 per cent of average earnings, the think tank IPPR has reported.

Social security allowances have hit their lowest relative levels since the creation of the welfare state, according to the group’s report.

Universal Credit payments have fallen to just 12.5 per cent of average earnings, the think tank IPPR has reported.

Social security allowances have hit their lowest relative levels since the creation of the welfare state, according to the group’s report.

Real time spending its lowest since the system began, according to the “Social (in)security” report.

As a share of the gross domestic product (GDP) – the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year – spending has fallen from 47 per cent to 40 per cent, and is set to be 3.9 per cent lower in real terms by 2021/22 than it was in 2010/11, amounting to £37bn less being spent on working-age social security.

The IPPR say the calculations issue a stark warning.

It believes the government needs to invest at least £8.4bn into the system to keep it afloat.

“Social security should offer a safety net, not a tightrope over poverty,” said Clare McNeil, the associate director of the IPPR.

“It is remarkable that in postwar Britain the support for those living in poverty was closer to average earnings than it is today. This is the very simple fact that lies behind the record levels of personal debt, rising use of food banks and increasing destitution that we see in the UK.”

These conclusions will come as no surprise to contributors to this Blog.

The Report from the IPPR.

Social (in)security: Reforming the UK’s social safety net

The UK has experienced a decade of austerity. While this has not resulted in a dramatic decrease in public spending in absolute terms, it does represent the longest pause in real-terms spending growth on record. Moreover, with the UK’s population continuing to grow, spending per head has fallen, and is set to be 3.9 per cent lower in real terms by 2021/22 than it was in 2010/11. Likewise, as a share of GDP, spending has fallen from 47 per cent to 40 per cent.

This reduction in spending on social security has occurred at the same time as fundamental reform to how working age benefits operate in the UK, with the introduction of universal credit, which aimed to encourage more people into work and simplify the system, thereby reducing fraud, error, confusion and administration costs.

However, it is far from clear that this has been the result. Moreover, across a whole host of other metrics, social indicators show that our welfare system is failing to deliver as we would expect it to. Having declined significantly during the first decade of the century, poverty is now growing again, particularly amongst pensioners, children and those in-work. 

This paper will argue that it is time to embrace a more progressive vision of social security in the 21st century. Fundamentally, it would recognise that, in the world’s fifth richest country, a basic minimum standard of living should be a foundation for citizenship. This idea must sit at the heart of the social security system.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 18, 2019 at 5:41 pm