My submission to the Work and Pensions Committee on the adequacy of benefits

The Work and Pensions Committee has issued a call for evidence about benefit levels in the UK.  My response to that call is here in a PDF or on the Committee’s website here.

There are some common confusions in the discussion of adequacy, which this submission seeks to clarify.

  • The purposes and functions of benefits are complex.
  • The adequacy of benefits depends on how they work in combination with each other, and with other sources of income.
  • Benefits have not been set at a level that reflects the costs of subsistence.
    Universal Credit in particular is not designed to provide a basic minimum
    income and does not do so.
  • Most benefits are designed to be delivered regardless of work status. The
    emphasis on the centrality of work is a major distortion of their role and
  • The operation of the benefits system is frequently penal and fails to provide
    adequate avenues of redress.
  • Assessments of people’s  financial position which attempt to identify all possible income streams and household circumstances are unavoidably complex, difficult to administer and liable to error. The alternative is to offer a range of less comprehensive benefits which can be combined in different ways.

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