The Future of Welfare Conference
The Chancellor, George Osborne, has argued that the austerity measures, which focus on cuts to tax credits and housing benefits, would put welfare spending on a sustainable footing and prevent abuse of the benefits system, while maintaining the principle that social security should always support elderly, vulnerable and disabled people. Osborne argues that if the welfare cuts proposed are implemented correctly, they will improve the incentive to work, and in the long term they could lead to many people having more productive and satisfying lives.
However critics of the cuts have warned that Osborne’s plans could lead to an increase in child poverty and homelessness, and plunge thousands of ill and disabled people into greater hardship. The Resolution Foundation has argued the impact of the cuts would not be cancelled out by the new national living wage for the over 25s that will be worth £9 an hour by 2020. Furthermore a cut of £46bn in social security payments over the next five years is looming, prompting the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) to warn that there will be a stark increase in poverty and inequality.
The Future of the Welfare Conference 2015 will provide delegates with the opportunity to discuss and examine how the ongoing welfare reforms are being delivered and debate how to mitigate negative impacts of these reforms and ensure that the most vulnerable are protected whilst making work pay.
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|Peter Tavernor||Former Principal of the Manchester College|
|Debbie Abrahams MP||Shadow Minister for Disabled People|
|Tim Waite||Head of Employer Skills Strategy, Department for Work and Pensions|
|Professor Peter Dwyer||Professor of Social Policy, University of York|
|Martin Cavanagh||North West Chair, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)|
|Neil Bateman||Welfare Consultant|
|Barry Macleod-Cullinane||Local Government Officer, Citizens Advice|
|David Gigg||Movement to Work Programme|
“To live within our means as a country and better protect spending on public services, we need to find at least a further £12 billion of welfare savings.” - George Osborne, July 2015
Businesses creating jobs is central to building a stronger, more resilient and stable economy.The government’s reforms are focused on helping people off benefits and into work – giving people the peace of mind and security that comes with a steady income. With the number of people claiming the main unemployment benefit down below one million for the first time in six years, the government is helping people to break free from welfare dependency, look after themselves and their families, and play their part in getting our country back to work.
In the July 2015 budget, the government introduced the ‘National Living Wage’, with a target of £9 an hour by 2020. The new National Living Wage will be compulsory. All working people aged 25 and over will receive it. It will start next April, at the rate of £7.20. The Low Pay Commission has recommended future rises that achieve the government’s objective of reaching 60% of median earnings by 2020. That is the minimum level of pay recommended in the report to the Resolution Foundation by Sir George Bain – Chair of the Low Pay Commission.
The government’s ambition for the low paid are that two and a half million people will get a direct pay rise. Those currently on the minimum wage will see their pay rise by a third over the next five years, a cash increase for a full time worker of over five thousand pounds. In total, it is expected that six million people will see their pay increase as a consequence. Taken together with all the welfare savings and the tax cuts in this year’s budget, it means that a typical family where someone is working full time on the minimum wage will be better off, according to the government.
However, the biggest single chunk of government welfare savings – amounting to £16bn between 2015 and 2020 – will be found from reductions to income thresholds in tax credits and work allowances, effectively reducing the amount of earnings households can keep before their benefit entitlements are reduced. A further £3.7bn will be found by increasing the rate at which a person forfeits tax credits as their earnings increase.
The new living wage has already been accused of failing to compensate low-income workers for the £12bn cuts in the welfare budget, some of which will leave tax credit claimants up to £1,000 a year worse off, according to the Resolution Foundation. In its analysis of the Chancellor’s budget, the IFS said the budget was regressive, taking “much more” from the poor than the rich. IFS director Paul Johnson said: “Unequivocally, tax credit recipients in work will be made worse off by the measures in the budget on average.” The IFS said that 13m families would lose an average of £5 a week as a result of extending the freeze in working age benefits, tax credits and the local housing allowance, until 2020.
The tax credits system is a means of re-distributing income by paying money to families raising children and working people on low incomes. To their critics, such as the TaxPayers Alliance, they are a deemed too generous. To supporters, such as the Joseph Roundtree Foundation who believe they are vital to alleviating poverty, Osborne’s plans for the freezing of tax credits are possibly a measure that could hurt the poorest families. Furthermore, the removal of automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21 year olds, the Local Housing Allowance rate will be frozen for four years, while social rents will be reduced by 1% a year for four years. The Benefit Cap will be reduced from £26,000 to £23,000 for households in London and £20,000 for those outside, crucially this could lead to a greater increase in homelessness according to the charity Homeless Link.
The future remains unclear for the welfare state, working-age benefits will again be frozen, social housing tenants on above-average incomes will be forced to pay the market rate and the redistributive tax credits system is now being cut. The Future of Welfare Conference 2015 will be an engaging conference confronting contemporary topics in welfare. Ultimately assessing whether working families face a difficult future or a new era of unprecedented relative prosperity of hard work is appropriately rewarded.
Registration, Refreshments and Exhibition
Opening Remarks from Chair
Peter Tavernor, Former Principal of Manchester College (Invited)
Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Minister for Disabilities
Debbie will look at current Government policy on welfare reform and Labour’s priorities for social security, including Debbie’s plans as Shadow Minister for Disabled People.
Tim Waite, Head of Employer & Skills Strategy, Department for Work and Pensions
‘Labour Market and Welfare’
Refreshments and Networking
Peter Dwyer, Professor of Social Policy, University of York
Central to Professor Dwyer’s work is a desire to inform policy and practice through the establishment of an original and comprehensive evidence base on the efficacy and ethicality of conditionality across a range of social policy fields and diverse groups of welfare service users. He is also currently working on an EC funded project a project exploring Roma inclusion in 9 EU Member States
Martin Cavanagh, North West Chair, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is one of the largest trade unions in the UK, with around 220,000 members. They are organised throughout the civil service and government agencies, making them the UK’s largest civil service trade union.
Lunch and Networking
David Gigg, Strategic Relations, Movement to Work Programme
Cabinet Office's David Gigg is on a year's secondment to Movement to Work, a programme supported by some of the country's largest employers - including the Civil Service - that is helping young people into jobs by providing high-quality work experience.
Neil Bateman, Welfare Consultant
Neil has over 30 years’ experience of welfare rights work – as a front-line adviser as well as an advocate, trainer, author, strategic manager and policy adviser. Neil has represented claimants at all levels of the social security appellate system and have also been involved in judicial reviews of social security and related matters. Neil is also very experienced at carrying out quality audits and developing strategies for social welfare law advice services.
Refreshments and Networking
Barry Macleod-Cullinane, Local Government Officer, Citizens Advice Bureau
Barry Macleod-Cullinane is Local Government Officer at Citizens Advice. Previously, Political Adviser to London Councils’ Conservative Group (2003-14), Barry has done policy research at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Health & Welfare Unit and the Cato Institute. A local councillor since 2006, Barry was Deputy Leader of Harrow Council (2013-14).
Closing Remarks from Chair
Peter Tavernor, Former Principal of Manchester College (Invited)
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- Understanding the changing landscape and the challenges and opportunities ahead.
- Identifying effective partnership working to ensure claimants are equipped with appropriate financial products and digital skills.
- Will give delegates the opportunity to discuss and examine how the ongoing reforms are being delivered and debate how to mitigate the impact of welfare reforms and ensure that the most vulnerable are protected whilst making work pay.
- Understanding new digital inclusion methods in welfare reform and how this benefiting claimants.
- Will understand what the effects of reforms in welfare will have on UK society in the years ahead.
- Learning the benefits of securing long term growth by making education and skills the priority and understanding the need for a demand led skills system where the welfare system is not the solution for alleviating poverty.
Who should attend?
Chief executive and senior management teams, councillors and council leaders, employment development teams, financial inclusion teams, income management teams, customer service teams, rent management teams ,regeneration and housing teams, supported housing teams, supporting people teams, housing advice and options teams.
Disability partnerships, equality and diversity teams, access and inclusion teams, welfare programme directors, heads of benefits, heads of fraud and error, heads of affordable and social housing, community engagement managers, welfare to work policy leads.
Directors of service design and heads of policy, heads of vocational education, labour market directors, employment, skills and transition managers, heads of youth engagement, head of trainee schemes, training and employment managers, heads of apprenticeships and will be drawn from further and higher education institutions, local authorities, central government, housing providers, the voluntary sector and private organisations.