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21st Century Welfare Consultation

Today sees the launch of 21st Century Welfare, a consultation looking at reforms to the benefits and Tax Credits system, including the idea of a single integrated Universal Credit.

The consultation will run until 1 October 2010 and responses can be posted or emailed.  Full details of how to respond can be found on the DWP website.

Questions being asked (based on information provided in the document) are:

  1. What steps should the Government consider to reduce the cost of the welfare system and reduce welfare dependency and poverty?
  2. Which aspects of the current benefits and Tax Credits system in particular lead to the widely held view that work does not pay for benefit recipients?
  3. To what extent is the complexity of the system deterring some people from moving into work?
  4. To what extent is structural reform needed to deliver customer service improvements, drive down administration costs and cut the levels of error, overpayments and fraud?
  5. Has the Government identified the right set of principles to use to guide reform?  These are outlined on page 18 of the document.
  6. Would an approach along the lines of the models set out in chapter 3 improve work incentives and hence help the Government to reduce costs and tackle welfare dependency and poverty? Which elements would be most successful? What other approaches should the Government consider?
  7. Do you think we should increase the obligations on benefit claimants who can work to take the steps necessary to seek and enter work? 
  8. Do you think that we should have a system of conditionality which aims to maximise the amount of work a person does, consistent with their personal circumstances?  
  9. If you agree that there should be greater localism what local flexibility would be required to deliver this?  
  10. The Government is committed to delivering more affordable homes. How could reform best be implemented to ensure providers can continue to deliver the new homes we need and maintain the existing affordable homes?
  11. What would be the best way to organise delivery of a reformed system to achieve improvements in outcomes, customer service and efficiency?

Some of these are quite major questions and it is going to be almost impossible to analyse the narrative results of the number of respondents that this consultation is likely to attract.  It's going to take some major analysis!

Now we normally try to refrain from sharing our opinion on these news items but we had to laugh at the following vision: 

We envisage an integrated IT system to manage all claims, and a single payment system to apply a withdrawal rate and pay the correct entitlement. These would not be entirely new systems and could be built on our existing IT and capabilities.

So with PRaP still not working, LMS still not being really fit for purpose after a decade, HMRC trying hard but not exactly making PAYE easy to administer ...  you have to admire their ambition, even though it may be with a cynical grin!  

Seriously though, these measure are well overdue so make sure you contribute your views and have your say.


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