There is a stigmatised ‘something-for-nothing’ culture that has been long
standing in Britain’s welfare structure. Having passed the parliamentary
stages, and awaiting Royal assent, the Welfare Reform Bill 2010-12 will
mark a break in Britain’s long standing legacy of welfare dependency
outweighing the incentive to work.
While the scope and depth of the bill are too broad to detail, It’s main
selling points are:
“The “Benefits Cap” which ensures no one can get more that £26,000 in
benefits (that’s the equivalent of a taxed income of £35,000).
The “Universal Credit” which will ensure that work always pays more than
being on benefit.”
What does all this mean?
The Bill will make law the long proposed £26,000 cap on the benefits a
household can receive within a year and will envelope all existing
entitlements into a single universal credit, which will reduce paperwork
and overlap. Expectations are that the bill will help lift people out of the
poverty trap through incentivising individual responsibility rather than
state dependency. It will balance the gains ratio of the welfare system,
incentive more people to work, in order to increase their income rather
than seeking out other form of the Bills predecessor’s means tested
structure it will also lower the welfare budget allowing for more efficient
use of tax-payers money.
Critics fear that the implementation of the bill may adversely affect the
disabled and the elderly. The Human Rights Joint Committee stated a concern
that replacing disability living allowance with a new Personal Independence
Payment, may put at risk disabled people’s independent living. In regard to
the elderly, there will be reduction in pension payments in households
where a member of the household is employed or under the pension receipt
age, costing pensioners on average £5 000 a year. Also putting at risk the
elderly ability to sustain their independent living
No matter the juxtaposition between critics, and the pro-reformers, it should
not be disregarded that welfare reform is well overdue. It will create a
fairness on the receipt of welfare, across the board. Having faced many a
controversy and a ping-pong between the commons and the house of lords, the
Welfare Reform Bill has been well scrutinised and will offer the much
needed socio-economic and socio-political changes to our welfare system.
Whether these impending changes, the good will out weight the bad, now
becomes a waiting game.