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UK Welfare Reform Bill - Essay Example

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The UK Welfare Reform Bill was introduced in the UK parliament on January 14, 2009. It was aimed at streamlining the UK social welfare in order to make it more effective and efficient. The bill introduces a number of changes into the already existing social welfare laws (Driver, 2009).
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Download file to see previous pages It instead encourages them to work hard and earn their own income (Meyer and Sullivan, 2004).
The bill compels all the people who claim benefits to follow an employment advisor's directions or sanctions be placed on their benefits. This is in order to ensure that any benefits claims are made in the right way. These new conditions are meant to ensure that only deserving people are considered for benefits.
This bill proposes that beneficiaries work for their benefits through some sort of a workfare with a labor rate of about '1.73 hourly for 35 hours every week. This bill further proposes the piloting of this workfare and its subsequent rollout without any further primary legislation.
The workfare clause of the bill has attracted a lot of criticism from various quarters who have proposed various amendments to the clause. The UK Department of Welfare and Pensions has refuted any claims of workfare increasing the likelihood to find work. The department particularly notes that workfare is not effective in getting jobs for people, especially in jurisdictions of weak labor markets that have a high rate of unemployment. The department also faults the bill's effectiveness in for individuals who have numerous barriers to work. The bill has further been accused of reducing employment chances since it limits the time for job hunting and also fails to offer the necessary experience and skills needed by the employers.
Work-related activity
The bill allows Jobcentre Plus and other private contractors to give mandatory directions to single parents as well as disabled and sick claimants. These directions require these claimants to undertake specific activities or risk facing sanctions on their benefits. This move will ensure that the claimants put some effort towards improving themselves rather than waiting on the government to do it for them.
Increased conditions for couples
This bill introduces two new changes for any couples who claim benefits. First, it removes the disabled or sick people's rights to claim ESA for couples where one of the partners can claim JSA. Second, this bill requires partners of JSA, ESA and IS claimants to participate in work-related activities or face sanctions. This in effect means that these partners have no choice but to work.
Contributions for ESA and JSA
This bill greatly restricts eligibility to contribute to ESA and JSA. Those working will now be forced to work longer to be able to pay the required contributions to qualify for the benefits. This will go a long way in reducing the number of qualified contributors to JSA and ESA. This will as a result force many of these claimants to means-tested benefits. The means-tested benefits are not only complex, but also suffer low take up. Others will end up not having any entitlement to means-tested benefits.
Carers and maternity allowances
This bill proposes the abolishment of dependent additions paid with maternity and carers' allowances. Both benefits are not means-tested and its beneficiaries are the poorest of the poor in the country. The removal of these benefits will lead to over-reliance on means-tested benefits. Those who do not pass the means test will be forced to live on a very low level of income (Scott et al, 2003).
Offenders' benefit penalties
The bill proposes a four-week benefit suspension for those ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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