Sticking plasters

An assessment of discretionary welfare support

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This briefing note looks at discretionary welfare support in recent years, including crisis provision, Discretionary Housing Payments, and more recently the Household Support Fund. Our analysis shows that discretionary support is increasingly being used as a sticking plaster for broader benefits cuts.

The Long Squeeze

Benefit uprating policy for April 2023

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To offset the impact of tax cuts on the public finances, the Government is considering how it might cut spending. One option that has been discussed is the possibility of raising some benefits in line with earnings rather than inflation next April. This paper explores what this might entail, the potential savings and impacts, and … Continued

Back on target

Analysis of the Government’s additional cost of living support

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The Chancellor yesterday announced a big and well-targeted package of energy bill support. Of the £15 billion of new measures, almost double that announced earlier in the year, twice as much will go to households in the bottom half of the income distribution as the top half. This fills the gaping hole left by the … Continued

Economy 2030
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Welfare

Social Insecurity

Assessing trends in social security to prepare for the decade of change ahead

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The UK is facing a decade of unprecedented economic change as we adjust to a post-Covid-19 economy, a new economic context outside the European Union (EU), and the decarbonisation of the economy.  And the social security system has a key role to play in the years ahead: it is part of the policy toolkit for … Continued

Taper cut

Analysis of the Autumn Budget changes to Universal Credit

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This briefing note looks at the changes to Universal Credit (UC) – the main benefit for low-income families – made by the Chancellor in the Autumn 2021 Budget. The reduction in the taper rate from 63 to 55 percent, and increase in the work allowance by £500 a year, represent a significant, permanent increase in … Continued

The big squeeze

Assessing the changes to family incomes over the next six months

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This winter will see a major income squeeze – and it will be focused on low-to-middle income households. High inflation, especially higher energy bills, will strain many families’ finances. But these pressures will be compounded for over 4 million families when £20 a week is cut from Universal Credit in October 2021. Looking forward, April … Continued

Age-old or new-age?

The changing incidence of social security benefits by age

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At the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the number of families receiving income from the benefits system increased significantly, with 1.3 million more families receiving Universal Credit within three months – reversing a trend of a steady decline in families receiving benefits. In this briefing note, we examine the shift in the numbers of families … Continued

In need of support?

Lessons from the Covid-19 crisis for our social security system

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This briefing note looks at the lessons we have learnt about the UK’s welfare system over the course of the Covid-19 crisis so far, and what those lessons might mean for its future direction. The £111 billion spent so far on supporting incomes during the pandemic should remind us of the importance of welfare systems. … Continued

Half-measures

The Chancellor’s options for Universal Credit in the Budget

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The Government has still to decide on whether to continue the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit (UC) and Working Tax Credit (WTC), due to expire in just 45 days. There are suggestions the Chancellor will opt for a halfway house of keeping the uplift for six months. Compared to the pencilled-in default of … Continued

The debts that divide us

Flash findings from a survey of families claiming Universal Credit

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The surge in claims for Universal Credit (UC) when the pandemic first hit means that UC caseloads are now about twice as high as they were pre-pandemic, with over half of all single parents now in receipt of UC.  About 60 per cent of the current caseload have newly-claimed UC during 2020, and the fraction … Continued

Safe harbour?

Six key welfare policy decisions to navigate this winter

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Despite the new Job Support Scheme, unemployment is set to rise substantially through the autumn and winter, as the Job Retention Scheme ends and the hospitality sector adjusts to new restrictions. This means many more individuals will soon be dependent on the social security system; and as the economy moves into the next phase of … Continued

Death by £1000 cuts?

The history, economics and politics of cutting benefits for millions of households next April

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The first Conservative Conference of a new parliament begins. It comes on the back of a surprisingly emphatic election win, but with rumblings beginning about the Chancellor’s plan to take £1,000 away from millions of low-income households in just six months’ time. At that conference it is George Osborne, not Rishi Sunak, that gets up … Continued

No work, no pay

Supporting unemployed people through coronavirus

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This recession is a labour market recession, with the public health response to coronavirus swiftly shutting down employment-heavy sectors of the economy. Although the Government has rightly committed billions of pounds to support employers, encourage retention and bail out the self-employed, it is inevitable that unemployment will rise. For those who lose their job or … Continued

Next steps to support family incomes in the face of the coronavirus crisis

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The Government has set out an unprecedented package of support for family incomes, including paying 80 per cent of the wages of employees who currently have no work, via its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Delivering that scheme should be the top priority, given its crucial role in preventing a very steep rise in unemployment and … Continued

Doing what it takes

Protecting firms and families from the economic impact of coronavirus

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The coronavirus health crisis is now a full-blown economic crisis, and one that may last for much more than a few months. Firms will go bust and unemployment will rise. The majority of this economic damage will be driven not by the direct impact of coronavirus itself, but by the necessary measures – such as social distancing – that we put in place to respond to it.

Social care
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Universal Credit
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Fiscal policy
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Welfare
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Political parties and elections

The shifting shape of social security

Charting the changing size and shape of the British welfare system

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Voters face a stark choice in the 2019 election about the social security system they want. This report examines how the provision of social security in Britain has changed; the big trends that current social security policy needs to take account of; and the policy offer from our three main political parties.

A fraying net

The role of a state safety net in supporting young people develop and transition to an independent, healthy future

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This report reviews the state-provided financial safety net available to young adults, and how it has changed over time. It finds that young people have always relied more on benefits than working-age adults. But this gap has narrowed over recent decades, as governments have increasingly deprioritised welfare support for young people.

Back in Credit?

Universal Credit after Budget 2018

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This briefing note focuses on the implications of recent changes to Universal Credit – in particular the £1,000 increase in work allowances announced in Budget 2018 – for the number of winners and losers from the switch to this new benefit system, for its generosity and for its impact on work incentives.

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