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Five years of social security reforms in the UK

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  • Mike Brewer

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and ISER, Essex University)

  • Tom Clark

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Matthew Wakefield

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Bologna)

Abstract

The current Labour Government was elected in 1997 with few specific social security proposals. This paper argues that after five years, consistent trends in social security policy have emerged: there is a willingness to increase benefits; a “work-first” focus; increasing centrality for benefits that relate to ‘need’, which has involved expanded means-testing; a downgrading of contributory benefits; and, a desire to reduce poverty by redistributing to particular demographic groups. Many of these characteristics of Labour policy, such as the size of caseloads or aggregate expenditure, are yet to show up in various aggregate data, and we argue that this is probably due to various counter-balancing socio-economic changes since 1997. Looking forward, we discuss what the introduction of new forms of means-test might achieve. We also suggest that it might be considered odd that Labour has left Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit unreformed, especially since a good chance to reform them without significant cost or low-income losers, has been missed.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W02/12.

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Length: 53 pp
Date of creation: Jun 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:02/12

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  1. Mike Brewer, 2001. "Comparing in-work benefits and the reward to work for families with children in the US and the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(1), pages 41-77, January.
  2. Robert Walker & Michael Wiseman, 1997. "The possibility of a British earned income tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 18(4), pages 401-425, November.
  3. R. Walker & M. Wiseman, . "Britain's New Deal and the Next Round of U.S. Welfare Reform," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1223-01, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  4. Chris Giles & Paul Johnson & Julian McCrae, 1997. "Housing benefit and financial returns to employment for tenants in the social sector," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 18(1), pages 49-72, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Bargain, O. & Beblo, M. & Beninger, D. & Blundell, R. & Carrasco, R. & Chiuri, M-C. & Laisney, F. & Lechene, V. & Longobardi, E. & Moreau, N. & Myck, M. & Ruiz-castillo, J. & Vermeulen, F.M.P., 2006. "The working families' tax credit and some European tax reforms in a collective setting," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-194161, Tilburg University.
  2. Ghazala Azmat, 2006. "The impact of tax credits on labour supply," Economics Working Papers 979, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2009.
  3. Susan Himmelweit & Barbara Bergmann & Kate Green & Randy Albelda & the Women's Committee of One Hundred & Charlotte Koren, 2004. "Lone Mothers: What is to be done?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 237-264.
  4. Ghazala Azmat, 2006. "The Incidence of an Earned Income Tax Credit: Evaluating the Impact on Wages in the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp0724, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Olivier Bargain & Karina Doorley, 2009. "In-work Transfers in Good Times and Bad - Simulations for Ireland," Working Papers 200930, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.

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