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Govt say no to cumulative impact of welfare reform

28 July 2014

Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) report: The cumulative impact of welfare reform: a commentary.

Since coming to power in May 2010 the Government has pursued a programme of welfare reform which can be expected to impact on claimant households in many and varied ways. SSAC has found it difficult to assess the cumulative impact of these reforms, but have recognised a number of the concerns raised by the currently available evidence.

They note that methodological challenges are compounded by the need to assess impact over time and in different parts of the country. Indeed reforms which have an immediate and negative impact on claimant income might at a later stage be considered to be positive if they are subsequently shown to have brought about behavioural change such as finding secure employment. Some overall assessments of impact are available, and this report looks to summarise their findings. However, clear gaps in the evidence base remain.

SSAC has made four recommendations:

  1. that the Government produces further secondary analysis of the datasets behind Charts 1 and 2, bringing together the cumulative impact of welfare reform on vulnerable groups such as disabled people, and with the findings published within six months.
  1. that DWP provide a range of case study examples of the cumulative impact of welfare reform, to sit alongside further quantitative analysis. Such examples, based on model households, would illustrate how the effect of individual reforms might accumulate for particular claimant groups (in terms of their income and their behavioural choices).
  1. that DWP consider extending its forthcoming evaluation of Universal Credit so as to also evaluate the impact of its wider programme of welfare reform.
  1. that, following further analysis of the impact of welfare reform, DWP consider whether there have been any cumulative impacts on vulnerable claimant groups that need to be mitigated.

You can download the report and an executive summary at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ssac-occasional-paper-12-the-cumulative-impact-of-welfare-reform-a-commentary

Government response

Lord Freud has responded, on behalf of the Government, in a two page letter rejecting the SSAC's recommendations. You can read this at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-ssac-report-on-the-cumulative-impact-of-welfare-reform