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Five years of social security reforms in the UK

Author

Listed:
  • Mike Brewer

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

  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mike Brewer & Tom Clark & Matthew Wakefield, 2002. "Five years of social security reforms in the UK," IFS Working Papers W02/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:02/12
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    File URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/wps/wp0212.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Michal Myck & Olivier Bargain & Miriam Beblo & Denis Beninger & Richard Blundell & Raquel Carrasco & Maria-Concetta Chiuri & François Laisney & Valérie Lechene & Ernesto Longobardi & Nicolas Moreau & , 2006. "The Working Families’ Tax Credit and Some European Tax Reforms in A Collective Setting," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 129-158, June.
    3. Azmat, Ghazala Yasmeen, 2006. "The incidence of an earned income tax credit: evaluating the impact on wages in the UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19859, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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