10 December 2008
Following the publication of the Welfare Reform Green Paper, No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility, we held a consultation to which we (and the Department for Work and Pensions) had over a thousand responses.
Less than two months later, the Government has published its White Paper, the document issued prior to legislation. It is entitled: Raising expectations and increasing support: reforming welfare for the future.
A full copy of the White Paper can be found here.
It will form the basis of the Welfare Reform Bill to be presented to Parliament in the next session.
The paper is long; Action for M.E. will respond as soon as we are able.
Meanwhile, today's press release issued by the Department for Work and Pensions says:
Fair rules for our benefits system.
New proposals for reforming the benefits system go further than ever before, offering personalised support for every one who is able to work.
The reforms set out a fair deal for people claiming benefits, with virtually everyone expected to do something in return for their benefits.
Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell said:
"These reforms will transform people's lives. We will give people on benefits the personal support they need to help them make a better life for themselves and their families.
"I believe that for the majority, work is part of the path to that better life which is why our reforms put the individual, and their needs, at the heart of the welfare system. We will give people the support they need and in return we will have higher expectations on people to take up that support. We must have a system where the rules are fair for everyone, and everyone knows what the rules are. I believe it is wrong to have a welfare system which doesn't encourage people to prepare for or get back to work. In future virtually everyone will be expected to do something in return for their benefits."
PRESS RELEASE CONTINUES: The proposals, published today in the White Paper Raising expectations and increasing support: reforming welfare for the future, implements the reforms set out by David Freud in full and takes forward the recommendations made by Professor Paul Gregg.
The White Paper takes welfare reform to the next logical stage and proposes:
- to use the invest to save approach Freud proposed which enables private and voluntary sector organisations to pay for support to get people back to work from subsequent benefit savings.
- to implement first steps of Gregg's recommendations making people claiming ESA subject to the progression to work conditionality and mandated to take steps to get back to work.
- to pilot conditionality for workless parents of children younger than currently planned.
- to publish a consultation paper on Housing Benefit reform in the New Year. We want a fair system – to people on low incomes and the taxpayer – which does not create barriers to work.
- a new fairer benefit rules for problem heroin and crack users. The new rules will include an allowance for claimants who are drug addicts, in place of other benefits they would normally receive, that demands they address their problem or face sanctions.
- to give disabled people greater choice and control over the support they use to meet their individual needs, with trailblazers in selected areas. This right to control will be a major step toward achieving disability equality by 2025.
"Now is the right time to introduce these fundamental reforms. When times are tough you give people more support not less. We will not repeat the mistakes of the eighties and nineties when thousands of people were moved further away from employment by condemning them to a life on Incapacity Benefits. This only makes it harder for them to find work and get their lives back on track."