In this section:

ARCH annual report


The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.


Download it here.

Welfare reform – the worst may be yet to come Matthew Warburton - 11/10/2012

cost_cuts_300Last year the Prime Minister's speech to the Conservative Party Conference included the surprise announcement of plans to revitalise Right to Buy - unexpected even by CLG, the Department responsible for implementing the policy. 

This year there was no similar surprise, only heavily trailed proposals to end automatic HB entitlement for under-25s. Maybe lessons have been learned from last year. The risk of launching policies in conference speeches is that they may not turn out quite as hoped. 

This seems to be the case with Right to Buy; Mark Prisk's contribution to the Conference included the announcement of a new promotional campaign, which could be taken as an admission that take-up since the discounts were increased in April has been less than expected. A little more work testing the feasibility of the proposal before committing to it might have repaid the effort.

Chancellor George Osborne has made it clear that he wants to see an additional £10 billion cut from the welfare benefits budget by the first year of the next Parliament, on top of reductions already in train. What is equally clear is that restricting the HB entitlement of under-25s will not deliver anything like this amount.

According to CIH, there are 383,500 tenants under the age of 25 in Britain receiving HB totalling £1.88 billion - less than a fifth of the total reduction envisaged. But in his speech, David Cameron was careful not to say that all under-25s would be denied HB, only that they would lose the "automatic" right to receive it. Nor is it consistent with his argument that HB should be denied to everyone under 25. 

The case for restricting entitlement, as articulated by several members of the government over the past few months, is that young people who have never worked, possibly never even looked for work, should not be enabled by the availability of HB to move out of their parents' home and set up in a separate tenancy. Particularly since the risk of losing HB becomes a disincentive to taking work. 

But there are many young tenants receiving HB who do not match this stereotype; some obvious examples are: young people who have no parents or who cannot be expected to live with them for a variety of good reasons; young workers in low paid jobs or who had jobs when they took on the tenancy but have since lost them. It would be manifestly unfair to apply benefit cuts to them all.

There will, it must be hoped, be adequate opportunities to consider and debate detailed proposals for any further cuts in benefit. At least the restriction of benefits for under-25s has been signalled in advance, allowing more time for analysis and consideration. We should be more worried about where the rest of the £10 billion is going to come from. The Government's silence on this is telling - it either means their plans are too awful to air before even the Conservative Party faithful, or that they just do not know yet. Either prospect is frightening.

Like emailLink
ARCH Member Comments 9 people like this