Five years of social security reforms in the UK
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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References listed on IDEAS
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- R. Walker & M. Wiseman, "undated". "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.