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Welfare Reform

The Government's aims

Other benefitsdepend on conditions such as disability or family needs. Benefits in this group include Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance and Child Benefit. These other, non-contributory benefits account for about a sixth of social security spending.

Income-related benefit, for people whose income falls below a certain level, determined according to their family circumstances. These benefits take a person's capital well as their income into account. The income-related benefits are Income Support, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Disability Working Allowance, Family Credit and Earnings Top-up in certain pilot areas. These account for a third of social security spending.

Contributory benefits,where entitlement depends on a person's record of National Insurance contributions. The main contributory benefits are Retirement Pension, Widow's Benefits, Incapacity Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance. These account for half of social security spending.

Types of benefit

There are three broad categories of social security benefit:

Jobseeker's Allowancehas both contributory and income-related components.

Since taking up office in May 1997 the Government has announced a number of wide-ranging reviews with the key objectives of tacking unemployment and social division which excludes people from playing a full part in their communities. The aims of the reviews are to:

· modernise the structure of social security and the way benefits are delivered to encourage financial independence and promote social cohesion

· make the welfare system active in supporting work, saving and honesty

· tackle social and economic inequalities.


Welfare reform is central to the Government's plans for the future development of Britain. Reform will tackle three key problems with the existing welfare system:

· inequality and social exclusion are worsening, especially among children and pensioners, despite rising spending on social security;

· people face a series of barriers to paid work, including financial disincentives; and

· fraud is taking money out of the system and away from genuine claimants.

Reform will be a long process, but the Government has already begun by publishing a Green Paper on Welfare Reform entitled New Ambitions for Our Country - A New Contract for Welfare. It sets out a number of key principles guiding welfare reform and includes a series of success measures to be achieved over the next 10 to 20 years. For example, by the end of the process of reform, the results that the Government expect to achieve include:

· a reduction in the proportion of working age people living in households where no-one works

· a guarantee of decent income in retirement for all

· a reduction in discrimination against people and an increase in the number of disabled people at work

· a rise in the proportion of parents meeting their financial obligations to children after separation

· a reduction in the amount of money lost in fraudulent payments.



1. The National Health Service: What is the strength of the GP system?

2. What are the reasons for the steep rise in the cost of NHS?

3. What reforms did the Government introduce for hospitals, GPs and regional health authorities from 1990?

4. Compare the situation in Britain with that in Belarus from the point of view of availability of free medical treatment, provision of residential accomodation for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill.

5. Do you think that voluntary organizations in Britain which provide many forms of help allow the government to avoid its responsibilities?

6. Do you think that the British welfare state is successful in giving help to everybody who needs it? How many and what kinds of people "slip through the net" of care?

7. What are the main problems of the welfare state in modern Britain?



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