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Welfare reform in the UK: 1997 - 2007

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  • Mike Brewer

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

Abstract

This paper, written at the request of the Economic Council of Sweden, presents a tour of welfare reform in the UK since the last change of government, summarising the most important changes in active labour market policies, and in measures intended to strengthen financial incentives to work. It argues that developments in the UK's active labour market policies occurred in two broad phases: first, the Government sought to strengthen ALMPs for those individuals deemed to be unemployed, through the New Deal programme. Second, the Government has reformed benefits for individuals traditionally viewed as inactive and thus excused job search activity, such as lone parents, and the sick and disabled. Accompanying these have been changes to direct taxes, tax credits and welfare benefits aiming to strengthen financial work incentives. However, financial work incentives have been strengthened by less than might be expected given the early rhetoric: the expansion in family-based tax credits have weakened the financial work incentives of (potential) second earners in families with children, many more workers now face combined marginal tax and tax credit withdrawal rates in excess of 60% than a decade ago, and a desire to achieve broad reductions in relative child poverty has led the Government to increase substantially income available to non-working families with children. We also summarise evaluations of three important UK welfare-to-work reforms (WFTC, NDYP and Pathways to Work), but without comparing their efficacy.

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File URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/wps/wp2007.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W07/20.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:07/20

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  1. Richard Dickens & Alan Manning, 2004. "Has the national minimum wage reduced UK wage inequality?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 167(4), pages 613-626.
  2. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & John Van Reenen, 2004. "Evaluating the Employment Impact of a Mandatory Job Search Program," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 569-606, 06.
  3. Giacomo De Giorgi, 2005. "Long-term effects of a mandatory multistage program: the New Deal for young people in the UK," IFS Working Papers W05/08, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  4. Brewer, Mike & Duncan, Alan & Shephard, Andrew & Suarez, Maria Jose, 2006. "Did working families' tax credit work? The impact of in-work support on labour supply in Great Britain," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 699-720, December.
  5. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & John Van Reenen, 2001. "Evaluating the employment impact of a mandatory job search assistance program," IFS Working Papers W01/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Stephen Machin & Joan Wilson, 2004. "Minimum wages in a low-wage labour market: Care homes in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages C102-C109, 03.
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Cited by:
  1. Kenneth Couch & Timothy M. Smeeding & Jane Waldfogel, 2010. "Fighting poverty: Attentive policy can make a huge difference," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 401-407.
  2. Francesconi, Marco & Rainer, Helmut & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2008. "Unintended Consequences of Welfare Reform: The Case of Divorced Parents," IZA Discussion Papers 3891, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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