This punishing welfare plan may be a bridge too far for this government


The Tories are planning a draconian extension of welfare sanctions that will affect millions of working families currently claiming tax credits. The 2011 welfare reform bill, now in grand committee stage in the House of Lords, will replace existing out-of-work benefits and tax credits with a single universal credit. But Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, fears the new system will pay "benefit to claimants who are clearly capable of working or earning more". He wants to apply conditionality to in-work claimants.

People who work hard and feel they are contributing to society will be told they must earn more or face a sliding scale of cuts to their income. In-work conditionality will be defined by an earnings threshold, the equivalent of a 35-hour week on the national minimum wage (currently £212.80). Workers who fall below this threshold must increase their work with their current employer, or look for an additional job or for a new one. The threshold for single parents with a child under 13 will be about 20 hours with gross pay of £120. With children over 12 they will be expected to work full time within 90 minutes of their home

This punishing welfare plan may be a bridge too far for this government | Jonathan Rutherford | Comment is free |


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