Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Green Paper

The UK's welfare reform Green Paper has been released. It's a fizzer - what you would expect from a Labour, or, for that matter, a Conservative government. From the Scotsman comes this report which features an interesting comparison between the UK's approach to incapacity benefits and New York's;

How New York saw 86% drop in sickness payments

NEW York in the early 1990s was a very different place to the city which today boasts some of the highest employment and lowest crime in the world. Much of the credit for that change has gone to its then mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

His thinking was blunt: welfare fuelled poverty, and keeping people in penury was not compassionate. His attention turned to the 24,900 people then claiming the United States equivalent of incapacity benefit.

He had each rigorously assessed by an independent firm of medics. The old system was like the current British system: it sought to establish whether or not people could work.

But Mr Giuliani asked his firm of doctors to assess which type of work each person was physically and mentally capable of doing. He then hired a private company to help them find work.

Crucially, those assessed capable of even low-level employment were given jobs by the state - such as tending the parks or cleaning graffiti from the walls - if they refused to find them outside.

Staying at home and collecting benefit was not an option in New York. Faced with the alternative of low-paid and low-skilled work serving neighbourhoods, the incapacity benefit claimants dropped 86 per cent.

All this was achieved within three years. By 1999 - his fifth year as mayor - the sickness benefit rolls had shrunk to 3,423.

Many were re-categorised as unemployed and put on a level of welfare payments which were demonstrably inferior to the jobs then being created so quickly.

As president, Bill Clinton applied the same for states in what was called "workfare", as it demanded work.

But Britain looks set to remain in the "welfare" era.

How government plans to get people back to work

GOALS

• Reduce incapacity benefit claimants to 1.5 million within a decade.

• Return 300,000 lone parents into work.

• Encourage one million over-50s to return to work.

INCAPACITY BENEFIT (IB)

• To be renamed Employment and Support Allowance.

• New claimants to have "work-focused interviews" and engage in "work-related activity" to qualify.

• Those refusing to attend interviews will have payments cut, but not below level of jobseekers' allowance.

• Pathways to Work scheme, being piloted in Glasgow, to be rolled out nationwide.

• Those returning to work will qualify for extra benefits.

• Those with severest disabilities or health problems will have a higher benefit and be exempt from interviews.

• Doctors discouraged from signing people on to IB - and asked to support patients who want to return to work.

• Doctors' surgeries will have employment advisers to intercept those claiming IB.

LONE PARENTS

• Will be required to attend a job interview every three months once the youngest child turns 11.

• Will be offered benefits if they return to work, so no parent would be better off on benefits.

HOUSING BENEFIT

• Moves afoot to give benefit directly to claimant, thereby giving them an incentive to find a cheaper place to live.

2 comments:

Libra said...

Hello, I want to meet and talk to some other local people about single parent holidays. I've found this site (single parent holidays). Are there any other ways of meeting similar people?
Many thanks

Libra said...

Hello, I want to meet and talk to some other local people about single parent holidays. I've found this site (single parent holidays). Are there any other ways of meeting similar people?
Many thanks