Updated Nov 2016
Social security is one of the most controversial areas of public policy. Those who can work should do so and should be given the proper opportunities to do so. Those that have contributed to the welfare system should be able to use it when they need to. But it is how this is measured, defined and delivered that causes the most debate.
Tackle unemployment quickly, effectively and locally
The longer people are out of work, the harder it is for them to return. Many who are furthest from the jobs market have a range of complex needs that need to be dealt with in an integrated fashion. Making the connections between physical health, mental health and social care services, and focussing these on the needs of the individual, is essential.
These services are best delivered locally so they can then be integrated with other services, tailored to local circumstances and delivered with the support of local employers.
There should also be a separate stream of support focused specifically on young people. Supporting all 18-24 year olds to be ‘earning or learning’ will ensure that they develop the tools they need for the rest of their lives. Young people who do not get a good education or who fail to make early connections to the labour market face a far greater risk of unemployment and low earnings in the future, and so investing in them early saves money in the longer term.
Tackle the structural drivers of higher spending on welfare
Rather than relying on short term fixes, we must tackle the structural drivers of higher welfare spending such as rising rents, inadequate childcare, low skills and worklessness among people facing multiple barriers to work, such as those with a disability or a health condition.
Improve income security
Financial stress is one of the biggest causes of family stress and even breakdown. Supporting families to save and/or borrow through the right vehicles better insulates them against this stress. High interest credit leaves too many families struggling with a spiral of debt, and the government should end the ‘poverty premium’ facing low income families who have little choice but to go to payday lenders.
Everyone should be properly provided for in their old age. At present, less than half of the UK population are adequately saving for retirement – an unsustainable situation. Too few people understand private pension provision and what they need and are entitled to. The government should pension provision to suit all needs, with pension options that work properly for everyone.