Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 12/04/2017

New social policy initiatives in the UK

Two new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social policy Network (ESPN) have just become available and provide information on recent social policy initiatives in the United Kingdom.

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  • Policy debate about Universal Basic Income (UBI) is increasing in the United Kingdom. The idea is not new and has always had advocates and critics. But current interest is due to the increasing emphasis on conditionality and sanctions in the benefits system and the growing insecurity of paid work. Debates focus on arguments for and against related to principles and practical issues. A full UBI is very unlikely to be introduced in the UK in the near future, however, given public attitudes towards benefits and the means-tested emphasis of the social security system.
  • From April 2017 income tested cash payments are to be restricted to two children in a family. Child tax credits, housing benefit and universal credit are all affected by this policy. It appears that the Government’s rationale for this change is to reduce the deficit and to influence behaviour hoping to “encourage parents to reflect carefully on their readiness to support an additional child”. With 27% of households with children having more than two children in 2015/16 (the latest year available), a number of experts and civil society organisations have voiced concerns about the new policy being likely to increase child poverty.

The views expressed in the Flash reports are purely those of the writer and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission.

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