Central to the Bill is the introduction of Universal Credit, which the Government say will simplify a benefits system that has become unmanageable, make work pay and help release millions of people from the misery of welfare dependency and break intergenerational cycles of worklessness.
Announcing the Bill, Works and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:
“The welfare system was created to meet the demand for a fairer society. Today, this Bill will seek to restore the welfare system to those founding principles.
“Our reforms will end the absurdity of a system where people too often get rewarded for doing the wrong thing, and those who strive to do the best by their families get penalised.
“The publication of the Welfare Reform Bill will put work, rather than hand-outs, at the heart of the welfare system. It will ensure that we continue to provide appropriate support for those genuinely unable to work, as we must and as we should. And it will provide a fair deal for the taxpayer.”
The Government claim the changes will mean:
- 2.7 million households are better off.
- Over 1 million households seeing an increase in their weekly income of £25 with 85 per cent of this increase going to the poorest families in the country.
- Nearly 1 million people getting out of poverty – including 350,000 children.
- The Bill will radically reshape Britain’s welfare system for the next sixty years by:
- sweeping away the patchwork of benefits and credits and replacing them with a Universal Credit to make work pay;
- introducing a proper system of conditionality and make sure that unscrupulous individuals are not able to abuse or defraud the system;
- a Personal Independence Payment for disabled people targeting support at those who really need it;
- a new system of child support which puts the interest of the child first;
- introducing new powers to tackle the problem of fraud and error.
Alongside the publication of the Bill, the Prime Minister and Secretary of State announced a review into the sickness absence system.
With 300,000 people off work every year claiming sickness-related benefits, the Government has asked David Frost and Dame Carol Black to consider whether with the right help and support more people could stay in work in some form.
From this summer Ministers will also bring in the biggest back to work programme since the war helping millions of people get into jobs.
Delivered by private and voluntary sector organisations, the Work Programme will end the culture of a one size fits all approach.