Originally posted by generalissimo
[b]Universal allowances, such as child benefit, could be curbed to help fund a major shake-up of the welfare system, David Cameron has indicated
"[i]The prime minister wants to wrap all existing out-of-work benefits into a single payment that encourages work.
Speaking as the Tory conference got discouraged rather than perpetuated by the system. These are certainly admirable measures.[/b]
[/i]Interestingly enough, yesterday's Guardian
reported that Labour might well support such a move (and compared it to an extension of the Purnell reforms mooted in the last parliament):
Probably the biggest hurdle to implementing a fair universal tapered benefit system is geographic spread: a truly universal benefit is of considerably more value in real terms to those in the north of England than in the south. If it rolls in housing benefit and other welfare benefits, those living in London, say, face considerably higher rent bills - as well as basic cost of living bills - than someone in Carlisle. Self-evidently, a universal £x benefit goes further towards meeting those costs in Carlisle than in London. The minimum wage is the minimum wage, and if we assume many coming off benefits will be earning that amount over 37.5 hrs/week, the problem is clear.
That's a purely technical problem, of course: the principle - assuming one wishes to encourage those who can work to do so, rather than claiming benefits, is sound.
I await with interest whether this universality will include incapacity benefits (for all those claiming). No doubt, some on incapacity benefit could work but do not, and tapered benefits would encourage them to consider joining the labour market. On the other hand, for those on such benefits who simply cannot realistically be expected to work, such a move would be regressive in the extreme.