The Benefit System, Welfare to Work

Welfare Reform Act 2012, one year on

Welfare Reform Act 2012, one year on

DWP publication


The Department for Work and Pensions has published a progress report one year on since the passage of the Welfare Reform Act 2012. Entitled “Social Justice: transforming lives – One year on, the report judges progress made by welfare reform against seven key indicators:

  • Preventing family breakdown to ensure that children born into low-income families are not disadvantaged compared to their wealthier peers;
  • Reducing the attainment gap in education between disadvantaged children;
  • Reducing re-offending by under 18 year olds;
  • Reducing the proportion of adults assessed as capable of work but claiming but who are claiming working-age benefits;
  • Improving drug rehabilitation;
  • Reducing re-offending by adults, and;
  • Growing the size of the ‘social investment market’

Taken altogether, Iain Duncan Smith claims to be addressing issues ‘at the source’, such relationship support, parenting classes, research into domestic violence  and a more effective adoption system, promising further such reforms in the Children and Families Bill. This view of social justice means sweeping cultural change, not simply income redistribution. These principles are summarised on (p.8) as:

  • A focus on prevention and early intervention;
  • Independence rather than maintenance;
  • Promoting work for those who can and unconditional support for those who can’t;
  • Where it is better, allow welfare to be designed and delivered at a local level, and;
  • A fair deal for the taxpayer.

The report declares limited success, including progress in reducing the proportion of out-of work adults in a state of ‘entrenched worklessness (p.26) and making the UK a ‘world leader’ in social investment (p.41). Throughout the publication, the DWP also claims to be using taxpayer’s money more efficiently through a system of payments by results for private contractors.

  • Is it right to switch the focus of welfare reform from income inequality to family stability, substance abuse and worklessness?
  • If so, do the government’s reforms deal with this? Or is austerity counter-productive?


By Will Archdeacon

Social Justice: transforming lives – One year on


Press release

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