"Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon"-"A nation without a language is a nation without a heart" Welsh Proverb

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

My take on the changes in British Aide or Benefits System

This article for my blog is based on a BBC Internet story "Benefits system overhaul 'to make work pay"

Please note that quotes here are from that article.

      As I begin my article here I have a wonder if this may also happen in the United States, but then again maybe not!

     The British Work Secretary Iain Duncan Smith says the plan is to to bring in a single Universal Credit to replace work-related benefits. He goes on to state that "The changes will bring welfare (dole) 'into the twenty first century" It is being reported that this is " The biggest welfare shake-up since the 1940s' and "will make going out to work pay and see benefit cuts for those who refuse to take jobs" Work Secretary Iain Smith plans to bring in a single Universal Credit to replace work-related benefits. Claimants moving into work will keep more of their income than now, but face losing benefits if they refuse a job.

       My mind wanders again when thinking about the USA! Such an action here might prompt words like this: You are being racist as you are making a certain race that is in the majority of those on Welfare work and take jobs.  Or the mother of four but out of wedlock feels that this is not fair to have to work when she has to take care of her children! In all they will find it unfair!

          Britain's Labour Party said it backed  this move to make work pay but warned about the possible lack of available jobs. Something that might be the out cry here in the USA or is it that jobs are felt to be beneath them or why should I work when the government pays me not to work. Mr Smith countered saying "We are not in the business of punishing people who can't take work." In the case of not enough jobs he stated hitting back at claims there were not enough jobs in the current economic climate for the plan to work, "there were 450,000 vacancies "even as the country is coming out of recession" He felt that creating jobs was "vital" but tackling the culture of worthlessness was more important, as the country could not afford for it to continue." Can the USA? Like Britain one wonders if we can sustain it much longer?  "In prosperous times this dependency culture would be unsustainable but today it's a national crisis," said Mr Duncan Smith.
Mr Smith added "70% of the four million new jobs created during one of the longest economic booms in history had gone to foreign workers, while 4.5 million British people continued a life on benefits."
"Businesses had to bring people in from overseas because our welfare system did not encourage or even assist people to take those jobs," This new action Smith felt "would reduce the number of work less households by 300,000 and make work pay for 700,000 low earning employees." The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, (the Lib Dem Leader,) backs the reforms, calling them "the most radical overhaul of our welfare system since its inception".
      The new system  like that of online bank account will mostly be administered through the Internet, with people expected to make claims online and check their payments. The records show though that an "estimated 1.5 million unemployed people do not currently have Internet access, according to government figures." This might be the out cry if such a system were taken on in the USA, but the fact is that most Libraries in the USA now have Internet available and people to help you become "Internet friendly." But then again like the British DWP a "minority" of cases could  be dealt with face-to-face. Mr Smith added that the
"current system was hugely complex and costly to administer, vulnerable to fraud, and deterred people from finding a job or extending their hours." I say much like the USA! Or in many cases the attitude that the Government "Owes them benefits." Just as in the USA Mr Smith said "millions of people had become "trapped" on benefits and long-term unemployment had become entrenched in communities where generations of families had not worked for years." How true this is here in the USA and the sad part is that many do not care! The following taken from the BBC article outlines the key points of the British reform:

                                                                                                                              Low paid workers to keep more of what they earn.

Replaces working tax credit, child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, jobseekers' allowance and income related allowances. Benefits cut for three months if job offers refused - and for up to three years in the most 'extreme' cases. People can move in and out of work without losing benefits. Starts for new claimants in 2013. Will take up to 10 years to come fully into effect. £2.1bn start up costs, but Meant to save money in the long run through reducing fraud and error

     Mr Smiths plan would consolidate "the existing 30 or more work-related benefits - including job seeker's allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit, working tax credit, income support and employment support allowance - into a single universal payment." One of the key points here is that "There will be tougher penalties for people fit to work but unwilling to do so." A suggestion that the USA might take to heart and consider. This work on " A sliding scale of sanctions will see those refusing work on three occasions having their benefits taken away for three months. Those repeatedly convicted of benefit fraud could have their benefits stopped for three years." The reality for what Mr. Smith "insists" is "no one will experience a reduction in the benefit money they receive as a result of the introduction of the Universal Credit.
Universal Credit claimants will receive a basic personal amount with additional sums for disability, caring costs, housing costs and children, with single people and couples getting different rates and, as now, the under 25s receiving less. Unlike now, people will not have to claim separately for different benefits. That would make it easier in the USA as Social Security benefits actually reduce the benefits paid on disability! Mr Smith added something else that sounds good "The amount claimants receive will also be calculated closer to "real time", with adjustments potentially made monthly rather than annually." It might be noted that here in the USA benefits have not been pro-rated for the last two years under the Obama administration!  Mr Smith told MPs he was determined to "ensure people will consistently and transparently be better off for each hour they work and for every pound they earn". That is noted that it does feel good people to earn your keep I know! In Britain "Officials believe that up to two million people will be better off as a result of the changes, which will cost an estimated £2bn to implement over the next four years. Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg believe "that in too many households families have not worked for generations, and have thereby doomed their children to a life of poverty and blighted prospects." How true this is in the USA!  They believe, the solution "is through encouraging and - if necessary - forcing these people back into work." It is noted in the article that this might make or break the present administration.
Disability charity Scope has expressed fears "that changes requiring more disabled people to undertake some work, if they are able, could drive more disabled people into poverty." I feel that we will have to wait to see on that aspect. 
       It might be noted that "The United trade union" in Britain, "warned the coalition's reforms would create "a US-style 'soup kitchen' culture". As a note here is it not the Salvation army responsible for some of the first "Soup Kitchens." here in the USA?  Funny how this establishment was started in 1865 in you guessed it LONDON ENGLAND.
        In all I am not giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to the British reform, but I will say this that it would take two or three time the time it took to pass the Obama Care "that was not wanted by the people." here in the USA. I will be keeping an eye on this an as a Welsh background person I might add I wonder if there is room for discrimination in such a plan. The outcomes are for another day to consider and I am sure that I will be writing on this again. I wonder if this British Reform will sail across "the Pond." or  sink on arrival. We will wait and see, but the feeling is that something must be done!

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