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Whose Economy: whose welfare? - John Lee


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John Lee, volunteer with Development Scotland, talks about the welfare system in Scotland.

The Whose Economy? seminars, organised by Oxfam Scotland and the University of the West of Scotland, brought together experts to look at recent changes in the Scottish economy and their impact on Scotland's most vulnerable communities.

Held over winter and spring 2010-11 in Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow and Stirling, the series posed the question of what economy is being created in Scotland and, specifically, for whom?

To find out more and view other Whose Economy? papers, presentations and videos visit:

Published in: Business, Technology
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Whose Economy: whose welfare? - John Lee

  1. 1. Whose Economy: WhoseWelfare? Dr. John Lee
  2. 2. Welfare Reform A major programme of welfare reform beginning in 1997 Active Labour Market Policy Raise employment levels to 80% of W.A.P. Affecting all claimants groups, but… Still some 5 million people on out of work benefits Reform agenda continues apace with the ‘Work Programme’
  3. 3. Claimants of main out-of-work benefits Incapacity benefits Lone parents on income support JSA3,500,0003,000,0002,500,0002,000,0001,500,0001,000,000 500,000 0 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009 3
  4. 4. A Punitive Welfare Regime In essence the welfare regime in the UK has always been based on a version of the Poor law:  ‘Less Eligibility’ – welfare has to as unattractive as possible  ‘Deserving and undeserving poor’ - widows/the able bodied unemployed Some evidence to suggest the welfare regime adversely affects health and wellbeing(1) Increasingly punitive:  Reassessment of IB  Lone parents lose Income Support when children reach age 7  Mandatory Work Activity - 3 year loss of benefits  Abolition of DLA and mandatory testing for PIP
  5. 5. Incapacity Benefits A massive programme to reassess incapacity benefits claimants; Pilots a success (pilots always are) Approximately 33% found fit for work and ‘invited’ to migrate to JSA Approximately 33% transferred to the work activity group on ESA
  6. 6. Volunteering Benefit regulations have been altered to encourage volunteering (e.g. 48 Hour Rule; 16 Hour rule) Volunteering highly visible in key policy documents Guidance emphasizes that volunteering does not affect benefit entitlement Volunteering a ‘work like activity’ for ESA claimants Volunteering Options Programme for JSA claimants Get Britain Working – JC+ to actively signpost
  7. 7. A cost cutting exercise? ‘UK Benefit bill = £190 billion; but Most of this is accounted for by pension payments and payments to children Spending on income replacement benefits and DLA account for only 13% of the total bill for social security (2) Falling value of benefits - JSA in real terms value is now worth the same as in 1997; Universal credit will cost 3billion to administer.
  8. 8. JSA 64.30pw JSA-C limited to 26 weeks A fifth of the actual, average expenditure for a single adult Half of the actual, average expenditure of single adults in the poorest households Half of the Government’s (income) poverty line for single adults Two-fifths of what is need to reach a minimum standard of living (3).
  9. 9. Whose Welfare? Welfare Reform programmes have had little impact (e.g. Pathways to Work; NDDP) Evidence to suggest that it is increased demand in the labour market which really makes a difference (4) Significant involvement of the private sector Work Programme contractors will be paid from benefit savings Increasing levels of in-work poverty and concern about the real effectiveness of work as a route out of poverty.
  10. 10. So What’s the Point? Reinforce the principle of Less Eligibility? o Mandatory Work Activity – and loss of benefit o Reduced value of benefits o Increased conditionality o The end of unemployment benefit?• Remove the category of the ‘Deserving Poor’?• Abolition of DLA; replaced with mandatory testing for PIP• Lone parents lose benefits when children reach age 7.
  11. 11. References:1. Nordenmark, M, Strandh, M and Layte, R (2006) The impact of unemployment benefit systems on the mental well-being of the unemployed in Sweden, Ireland and Great Britain. European Societies, Vol.8, No.1.2. Kenway, P et al (2010) Working-age ‘welfare’: who gets it, why, and what it costs. York: JRF.3. Kenway, P (2009) should adult unemployment benefit now be raised. York: JRF.4. Webster, D et al (2010) Falling incapacity benefit claims in a former industrial city: policy impacts or labour market improvements? Policy Studies, Vol.31, No.32
  12. 12. To view all the papers in the Whose Economy series click hereTo view all the videos and presentations from the seminars click here