Welfare Reform – How did we get here?
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Unless you’ve been living on the moon you’ve no doubt heard the words ‘Welfare Reform’ being bandied about a fair bit over the last few years. But what does Welfare Reform actually mean?
Here, Damian Carter, opportunities manager at Bromford, explains more.
Well, literally translated:
Welfare (in this instance) = money
Reform = change.
So basically, if you rely on benefits of any description they’re changing. If you feel like things have been changing for a while, you’d be right. The changes to benefits were announced in 2012 but it's taken a while to come into effect.
Today there are numerous benefits including Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), state pension, tax credits, Income Support, personal independence payments (PIP), and housing benefit. The list goes on and on so, it’s not surprising that all governments have tried to simplify the system, to make it easier for everyone concerned to understand. Unfortunately, rather than simplifying it, they’ve only added more and more levels of rules making welfare benefits more complicated than ever.
In the financial year 2014/15, the UK government spent £258 billion on welfare, which made up 35% of all government spending.
How do you think the money was spent?
So with all that money being spent on welfare, it’s no wonder that the current government is trying (again) to simplify the system; and that’s where Universal Credit comes in.
Universal Credit is meant to simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment. It aims to simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand and help people get back into work. It replaces housing benefit, child tax credit, working tax credit, JSA (income based), employment support allowance (income related) and income support.
In principal, the idea is a good one. If you get a job and need less benefits your income is worked out accordingly – and vice versa; if you lose your job the system is designed to increase your benefits until you find a new job. The idea is that your income stays consistent - your payments are worked out on the amount you earn, not the amount of hours you work. This is designed to encourage people to look for work without the worry of being worse off.
When you bear in mind that the welfare benefits system was introduced to support people in times of need, not as a lifestyle choice, you can understand why the current system needs to change. If universal credits works in the way it is meant to, the results should be that it really does pay to go to work (wherever possible).
These reforms are being introduced by the government and whether you agree with them or not, our job is to try and help you make sense of them. I suppose the question you’ve got to ask yourself is: “What kind of a future do I want?”
What kind of future do you want?
Do you want to be reliant on an ever-changing welfare system where you’re never in control of your income? Or would you prefer to take control of your future by getting back into work, taking a better paid job – or even taking on extra jobs if need be? Do you want to be able to go on holiday, change your car, get a better phone or have a night out with friends without worrying where the money will come from?
It’s our job to listen to you, our customers, and to help you reach whatever goals you may have in life. By understanding the changes, hopefully you’ll be able to make informed decisions that will allow you to lead a healthier and happier life – doing the things that you enjoy, free from the stress of the welfare benefits system.