Local Welfare Safety Net Inquiry: Submission from the New Policy Institute
The New Policy Institute (NPI) have responded to the Committee’s call for evidence on the local welfare safety net. This is a subject where we have both a wide-ranging view and in-depth knowledge, the latter from research projects to do with Council Tax Support (CTS).
The idea that the welfare state should provide a minimum level of income to support those in need was uncontroversial for 60 years. The form and level of support were the subject of continuing debate and periodic reform but not the principle. In recent years, numerous reforms have compromised the solidity and consistency of this income minimum. All parts of the UK have been affected but the process has gone furthest in England. In particular, these reforms have opened the door to local variation in support, either by design or because of local variation in housing and labour markets and demography. Hence the sense of a ‘postcode lottery’.
Our submission contains four parts: an overview of the key policies; the causes of local variation; findings arising from our research on CTS; and recommendations.