New Benefit Reform Under Question

According to a recent report by think tank Resolution Foundation, people working on a part-time employment contract and also people who are unable to secure a full-time job, will potentially lose their right for benefits. Statistics show that there are about 1.4 million people in the UK who have only part-time jobs. The reforms will target those adults who cannot find a full-time job. About 1.2 out of the 1.4 million will have to provide evidence that they deserve to keep their right for benefits.

The Department of Work and Pensions has targeted part-time workers in order to push them to find a full-time job. By removing the benefits entitled to those workers, the Department aims to force them into full-time employment so that they can make a difference not only for themselves but also for the community as well. Part-time workers will be thus encourages to get additional hours at their present jobs, to look for another job, or to seek a higher wage.

The reforms announced are also part of the government’s recent plan for introducing a new benefits system called Universal Credit. The Universal Credit plan will combine several existing benefit systems in one. Some of them include, but are not limited to, income-base Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefits. Ministers strongly believe that the existing benefit system is costly and outdated and thus needs to be replaced with a new one. The Universal Credit plan is said to replace the current system and to be implemented in October 2013.

Despite the positive sides that the government sees in the reform, there are also concerns whether or not it will actually work in practice. According to the Resolution Foundation, if the reform is put into practice, it might be really difficult for the job centers to cope with additional 1.2 million people. Many other organizations also expressed concerns about the new reforms and system and questioned its implementation. One of the concerns is that it will not be possible for the claimants to take extra hours at work or even find another job. With 1.2 million people the odds of finding a second part-time job, or even a full-time employment, are close to impossible. There are also even bigger concerns regarding the currently weak labor market and the fact that people are willing to work more hours but there is no opportunity to do that. As good as the reform may sound; it is actually questionable whether or not claimants will be able to function in this context.

It was reported that in the past month about 74 charities, councils and other organizations had submitted written papers of evidence revealing all the concerns and questions they had about the new benefit system and how hard it will be to implement and put into practice. Some of the issues discussed in those papers concerned risks of paying benefits to one household member and whether the IT infrastructure as well as staff will be ready in time.




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