Friday, 25 February 2011

The Welfare Reform Bill

Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has recently introduced the Welfare Reform Bill.

It is being spun as the biggest reform of the welfare state for 60 years since the days of the Beveridge Report.

The Church and Society Council, together with our partners in the Priority Areas Committee, Faith in Community Scotland and other organisations are preparing for some serious engagement with the Bill as it makes its way through the Houses of Parliament.

We have already responded to the Green Paper published last year.

We are cautious about the Bill. Some of the principles are to be welcomed, but it is the detail of how things might work out which is causing some to worry.

Last week Iain Duncan Smith promised that “no one will be worse off” under the new system. We intend to hold him to this promise.

We are also keen to make sure that the Government’s use of language when talking about those who receive benefit entitlements remains fair and not inflammatory. We have had experience of this in the past, and have had an apology out of the Government.

But overall we are keen to work constructively with anyone whose intention is to make life easier for the poorest people. I am keen to continue a dialogue with the Department for Work and Pensions to see how their plans will be rolled out in Scotland.

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