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(Work and Pensions Committee) Welfare safety net inquiry

20 November 2018

The UK’s welfare system is currently undergoing fundamental reform, in the transition to Universal Credit alongside other major and largely untested reforms like Benefit sanctions and the Benefit cap. The Committee’s latest work on Universal Credit looks at how Government will safeguard some of the most vulnerable members of our society as it implements this huge programme of change.

After the recent Budget Members from across the House expressed concerns on this issue, including some senior MPs telling Government that continuing the freeze on benefits in place since 2010 was “immoral”.

The previous Work and Pensions Committee inquired into the Local welfare safety net in response to changes in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 - which replaced several centrally administered schemes with locally run provision - and further changes in the Summer 2015 Budget.

It looked at whether these changes represented “localism in action” or rather created a postcode lottery of service provision, with people falling through the gaps or “holes” in the welfare safety net and the costs shunted on to local authorities, services and charities.

The Committee concluded that Welfare reforms risk leading people into severe hardship and called on Government to:

  • Ensure reforms such as the benefit cap do not inadvertently penalise groups who cannot actually adapt to it or offset its effects, and that appropriate mitigation strategies are in place. For example, some claimants cannot find or move to cheaper housing, because none is available, or cannot move in to work because they are a single parent and there is no appropriate childcare in their area.
  • Conduct robust, cross-departmental evaluation on the impact of local schemes on the most vulnerable households
  • Co-ordinate with local government better to ensure more consistent quality of provision

Since then indicators suggest chronic deprivation is on the rise. These include numbers of households in temporary accommodation, rough sleepers, and people referred to foodbanks. 

More information can be found here:

Further information on the parliamentary inquiry

Getting Involved

To contribute to this consultation please contact [email protected].

The deadline for responses is Friday the 07th of December.

Please note:

  • The Society will only produce ONE response to any consultation.
  • Any response that goes under the Society logo MUST be signed off by the relevant Board Chair and Branch Chair in the case of Devolved Nations.
  • Responses on behalf of particular Divisions / Faculties /Member Networks are not permitted under any circumstances.
  • Please do refer to the British Psychological Society Consultation Processes document which is attached before writing and sending any comments
  • Please ensure that all comments are based on Published Evidence and not solely on Clinical opinion


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