Localisation Issues in Welfare Reform
HC 1406, Fifth Report of Session 2010-12 - Volume I: Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence
- House of Commons - Communities and Local Government Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
'Localisation Issues in Welfare Reform (HC 1406)' examines the implications of the Government's welfare reform plans for the localism agenda.
Under new plans Council Tax Benefit will be abolished and replaced by localised schemes run by councils. However, restrictions placed on local authorities in designing their own schemes for council tax support will produce only the illusion of local discretion. Combined with a planned 10% cut in spending on support for council tax, the MPs argue these restrictions are likely to squeeze the funds available to support working-age unemployed people. The Committee also expresses concerns about the timetable for change, with local authorities having little time to design their council tax support schemes before they are due to be introduced in 2013.
The Committee welcomes plans to localise elements of the discretionary Social Fund but warns ministers that they need to fund the new schemes adequately.
Collecting information about how these funds are used would allow residents to hold local authorities to account for how effective their local schemes are.
Housing Benefit, which is currently administered by local authorities, is to be incorporated into the centralised Universal Credit system under the Government's plans, an incongruous move for an administration committed to decentralisation.
Finally, the Committee urges the Government to think carefully about the proposed system of paying housing costs support directly to tenants under Universal Credit, as this could seriously hamper the ability of social landlords to borrow to invest in their current or new properties.
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