Result

To re-examine and rebalance our benefits systems in favour of those who need it, the disabled and long-term sick, while shifting the balance for the unemployed toward adult training and employment.

In the longer term, we plan to move away from in-work benefits by incrementing the minimum wage to become the living wage, thus moving the cost of employment back to employers and away from the state.

Proposal/Method

We will continue to roll out Universal Credit (UC) as the preferred solution for benefit payments but will first address the transition issues to remove the financial disadvantage to individuals as they move to this system.  A one-off expense for the state that will be repaid over time from the reduced cost of administering UC.

We will continue to move toward unemployment benefit being a safety net only, that covers basic needs but no more.  We recognise that the old ‘job for life’ model is rapidly disappearing today, so we will add financial incentives for anyone unemployed to gain the skills needed for new opportunities.

Sickness and Disability benefit definitions have become broad, easily and sometimes inappropriately applied for short term difficulties.  We have significant concerns that this practice disadvantages those who need long term help and benefits.  We will address this by first instituting a team of appropriate experts to examine and redesign the system.  We will then publish a plan to move from the current system to the new one in a series of managed and timed steps.  We will not implement anything as a big bang change and will ensure proper advance notification of changes to allow sufficient notice of change for everyone affected to adapt to those changes.

Flaws

Over time the benefits system has become increasingly complex, problematic and expensive.  The time to re-examine and repurpose the system is now.

Out of work benefits are sometimes seen as too generous by allowing long term unemployment as a lifestyle.

In work benefits allow employers to rely on tax payers enforced generosity to top up individual incomes to the point of a living wage.

Sickness and disability benefits have broadened in scope beyond the sensible remit of supporting those who have no choice but to rely on them.

 

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