Welfare cuts will impact on real people already in poverty

People already in poverty will see their income fall with more welfare spending cuts

The three main political parties all agree on the need to reduce the deficit, and argue that it is fairer to make savings in the working age welfare budget, rather than make spending cuts in other departments.

The Conservative Party has proposed a further £12bn of welfare spending cuts, without spelling out where these savings would come from.

Labour are committed to the welfare cap, limiting welfare spending over the five years of the parliament and the Liberal Democrats also propose savings, albeit more modest savings than the Conservatives.

They have found consensus in cuts to welfare spending, but how the next government chooses to make these cuts will affect people’s pockets as beneficiaries, and their employment prospects, by changing the financial returns from work.

[button icon=”link” btn-grntag=”PDF” link=”https://policyinpractice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ebook_welfare-manifestos_GE2105_Policy-in-Practice_final.pdf”%5DDownload E-book > What’s At Stake for Welfare? A side-by-side comparison of the welfare policies of the three main political parties[/button]

How Universal Credit Impacts on Pockets and Prospects

Our recent review of Universal Credit focused on the impact UC had on reducing poverty by looking at the impact on ‘pockets’ and ‘prospects’. Overall, we found that Universal Credit will increase the money in people’s pockets, and improve their employment prospects.

Reductions in welfare spending will have the opposite effect on people’s pockets and prospects.

A large proportion of in-work households, typically low to middle income earners, are beneficiaries of the welfare system. The government can choose to reduce the amount of support people receive when out of work, or they can choose to lower in-work support faster, as earnings increase.

An example of each of these can be found in each of the manifestos.

  • Out of work support increases are to be frozen or limited, hitting the pockets of people on low incomes.
  • The work allowance, the amount that a household can earn before benefits are withdrawn, has been frozen under both the current system and Universal Credit, lowering the real financial returns from moving into work.
  • The withdrawal rate of tax credits and Universal Credit could be increased, so benefits fall faster as earnings increase, households would face a higher effective tax rate and keep less of their earnings from work.

Benefit cuts hitting out-of-work households are often described as hitting the pockets of ‘shirkers’, particular when increases for disabled people are protected – these changes poll well with the electorate.

However, changes can also hit the employment prospects of some 3.8m in-work families, and reduce the incentive to enter work for those who are unemployed.

Benefit cuts that hit ‘prospects’, as well as ‘pockets’ would undo much of the improvement to work incentives that Universal Credit is being brought in to to deliver.

The Three Root Causes of Rising Welfare Spending

The base requirement for keeping welfare spending manageable is a growing economy, and it is credit to employers and employees that employment has remained high throughout this parliament. However, even with a growing economyeach political party knows that without tackling the root causes of rising welfare spending, any cuts they make to the welfare budget will only be temporary – the bill will continue to rise. Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the welfare debate is that the main drivers of rising welfare spending are well known:

  1. Demography: Pension spending is rising because of a growing number of pensioners, despite increases in the state pension age and because spending on pensioner benefits (including the triple-lock on the state pension) is rising.
  2. In-work support: Tax credits, introduced to help meet the higher living costs faced by larger families and improve incentives to enter work now see £20bn paid to 3.1m in-work families as living costs have continued to outpace wages; in addition, over 1m housing benefit claims are paid to households in work.
  3. Housing: Housing benefit has increased dramatically from £15bn in 2000 to £24bn today as a result of rising rents caused by a lack of new homes. With increases now capped, housing benefit is beginning to lose its relationship with local rents in some areas.

Each of the main parties have made a commitment to maintain the triple-lock on pension, so savings in working age welfare would need to be even higher than if the pain was shared more evenly. The need for higher in-work support is driven by the rising cost of living, including high housing costs.

However, while all of the parties talk about accelerating housebuilding there is little concrete or convincing detail as to how this would be achieved. More recently, the Conservatives have also promised not to increase income tax, national insurance or VAT, which ties their hands on the alternatives to welfare cuts.

The Impending Welfare Bombshell

Earlier on in the election campaign, Grant Schapps, speaking for the Conservatives, took a hammering on Newsnight from Evan Davis over the basis of their ‘Labour tax bombshell’ figure of £3,000.

The Conservative party calculated this figure based on a number of assumptions that the Institute for Fiscal Studies would describe as ‘unconventional’ at best.

Their own methodology, applied across their £12bn of welfare savings concentrated on working age households, would mean a ‘welfare bombshell’ of £7,500 over the course of the next parliament for each family in receipt of benefits or tax credits, a figure that equates to 10 per cent of the working age welfare budget.

Given that working age welfare is already cut to the bone, as shown in the table below, the challenge in finding the required level of savings is a real challenge.

Welfare Savings Announced In This Parliament

Local AuthorityLEPPopulationTotal LossLoss per Capita
AdurCoast to Capital63,176 £276,599 £4.38
AllerdaleCumbria96,471 £3,950,671 £40.95
Amber ValleyD2N2123,942 £1,992,484 £16.08
ArunCoast to Capital154,414 £676,059 £4.38
AshfieldD2N2122,508 £1,969,431 £16.08
AshfordSouth East123,285 £1,460,991 £11.85
Aylesbury ValeSEMLEP184,560 £1,150,088 £6.23
BaberghNew Anglia88,845 £762,542 £8.58
Barking and DagenhamNorth East London198,294 £6,880,802 £34.70
BarnetNorth West London374,915 £13,009,551 £34.70
BarnsleyLeeds City Region237,843 £2,740,702 £11.52
Barrow-in-FurnessCumbria67,648 £2,770,314 £40.95
BasildonSouth East180,521 £2,139,267 £11.85
Basingstoke and DeaneEnterprise M3172,870 £875,610 £5.07
BassetlawSheffield City Region114,143 £1,268,874 £11.12
Bath and North East SomersetWest of England182,021 £2,017,080 £11.08
BedfordSEMLEP163,924 £1,021,495 £6.23
BexleySouth London239,865 £8,323,316 £34.70
BirminghamGreater Birmingham and Solihull1,101,360 £61,187,191 £55.56
BlabyLeicester and Leicestershire95,851 £2,827,814 £29.50
Blackburn with DarwenLancashire146,743 £5,145,161 £35.06
BlackpoolLancashire140,501 £4,926,302 £35.06
Blaenau GwentWest Wales and the Valleys69,674 £7,073,832 £101.53
BolsoverSheffield City Region77,155 £857,696 £11.12
BoltonGreater Manchester280,439 £11,059,900 £39.44
BostonGreater Lincolnshire66,458 £965,752 £14.53
BournemouthDorset191,390 £4,161,355 £21.74
Bracknell ForestThames Valley and Berkshire118,025 £686,734 £5.82
BradfordLeeds City Region528,155 £6,086,013 £11.52
BraintreeSouth East149,985 £1,777,399 £11.85
BrecklandNew Anglia133,986 £1,149,980 £8.58
BrentNorth West London320,762 £11,130,441 £34.70
BrentwoodSouth East75,645 £896,432 £11.85
BridgendWest Wales and the Valleys141,214 £14,337,115 £101.53
Brighton and HoveCoast to Capital281,076 £1,230,613 £4.38
Bristol, City ofWest of England442,474 £4,903,309 £11.08
BroadlandNew Anglia125,961 £1,081,103 £8.58
BromleySouth London321,278 £11,148,347 £34.70
BromsgroveGreater Birmingham and Solihull95,485 £5,304,768 £55.56
BroxbourneHertfordshire95,748 £1,258,335 £13.14
BroxtoweD2N2111,780 £1,796,968 £16.08
BurnleyLancashire87,291 £3,060,632 £35.06
BuryGreater Manchester187,474 £7,393,564 £39.44
CaerphillyWest Wales and the Valleys179,941 £18,268,974 £101.53
CalderdaleLeeds City Region207,376 £2,389,626 £11.52
CambridgeGreater Cambridge/Peterborough128,515 £1,260,838 £9.81
CamdenCentral London234,846 £8,149,156 £34.70
Cannock ChaseGreater Birmingham and Solihull98,549 £5,474,991 £55.56
CanterburySouth East157,649 £1,868,222 £11.85
CardiffEast Wales354,294 £14,860,949 £41.95
CarlisleCumbria108,022 £4,423,707 £40.95
CarmarthenshireWest Wales and the Valleys184,898 £18,772,246 £101.53
Castle PointSouth East88,011 £1,042,976 £11.85
Central BedfordshireSEMLEP269,076 £1,676,751 £6.23
CeredigionWest Wales and the Valleys75,425 £7,657,717 £101.53
CharnwoodLeicester and Leicestershire173,545 £5,119,957 £29.50
ChelmsfordSouth East171,633 £2,033,939 £11.85
CheltenhamGloucestershire116,495 £2,404,965 £20.64
CherwellOxfordshire144,494 £769,661 £5.33
Cheshire EastCheshire and Warrington374,179 £11,887,586 £31.77
Cheshire West and ChesterCheshire and Warrington332,210 £10,554,240 £31.77
ChesterfieldSheffield City Region104,288 £1,159,320 £11.12
ChichesterCoast to Capital115,527 £505,803 £4.38
ChilternBuckinghamshire Thames Valley93,972 £528,183 £5.62
ChorleyLancashire111,607 £3,913,209 £35.06
ChristchurchDorset48,895 £1,063,114 £21.74
City of LondonCentral London8,072 £280,098 £34.70
ColchesterSouth East180,420 £2,138,070 £11.85
ConwyWest Wales and the Valleys116,287 £11,806,337 £101.53
CopelandCumbria69,832 £2,859,753 £40.95
CorbySEMLEP65,434 £407,753 £6.23
Cornwall,Isles of ScillyCornwall135,266 £8,832,978 £65.30
CotswoldGloucestershire84,637 £1,747,277 £20.64
County DurhamNorth East517,773 £13,435,894 £25.95
CoventryCoventry and Warwickshire337,428 £4,883,286 £14.47
CravenLeeds City Region55,696 £641,794 £11.52
CrawleyCoast to Capital109,883 £481,092 £4.38
CroydonCoast to Capital376,040 £1,646,387 £4.38
DacorumHertfordshire149,741 £1,967,920 £13.14
DarlingtonTEES Valley105,367 £3,415,180 £32.41
DartfordSouth East102,234 £1,211,525 £11.85
DaventrySEMLEP79,036 £492,514 £6.23
DenbighshireWest Wales and the Valleys94,791 £9,623,900 £101.53
DerbyD2N2252,463 £4,058,579 £16.08
Derbyshire DalesSheffield City Region71,281 £792,397 £11.12
DoncasterSheffield City Region304,185 £3,381,481 £11.12
DoverSouth East113,066 £1,339,890 £11.85
DudleyBlack Country315,799 £11,458,457 £36.28
EalingNorth West London342,118 £11,871,495 £34.70
East CambridgeshireGreater Cambridge/Peterborough86,685 £850,452 £9.81
East DevonHeart of South West136,374 £3,535,160 £25.92
East DorsetDorset88,186 £1,917,411 £21.74
East HampshireSolent117,483 £442,128 £3.76
East HertfordshireHertfordshire143,021 £1,879,604 £13.14
East LindseyGreater Lincolnshire137,623 £1,999,905 £14.53
East NorthamptonshireNorthamptonshire88,872 £3,608,068 £40.60
East Riding of YorkshireYork, North Yorkshire & East Riding337,115 £6,208,932 £18.42
East StaffordshireGreater Birmingham and Solihull115,663 £6,425,777 £55.56
EastbourneSouth East101,547 £1,203,384 £11.85
EastleighSolent128,877 £485,008 £3.76
EdenCumbria52,630 £2,155,299 £40.95
ElmbridgeEnterprise M3132,769 £672,493 £5.07
EnfieldNorth East London324,574 £11,262,718 £34.70
Epping ForestSouth East128,777 £1,526,074 £11.85
Epsom and EwellCoast to Capital78,318 £342,894 £4.38
ErewashD2N2114,048 £1,833,428 £16.08
ExeterHeart of South West124,328 £3,222,897 £25.92
FarehamSolent114,331 £430,266 £3.76
FenlandGreater Cambridge/Peterborough97,732 £958,832 £9.81
FlintshireEast Wales153,804 £6,451,347 £41.95
Forest HeathGreater Cambridge/Peterborough62,812 £616,238 £9.81
Forest of DeanGloucestershire83,674 £1,727,396 £20.64
FyldeLancashire77,042 £2,701,277 £35.06
GatesheadNorth East200,505 £5,202,983 £25.95
GedlingD2N2115,638 £1,858,989 £16.08
GloucesterGloucestershire125,649 £2,593,943 £20.64
GosportSolent84,287 £317,201 £3.76
GraveshamSouth East105,261 £1,247,397 £11.85
Great YarmouthNew Anglia98,172 £842,594 £8.58
GreenwichNorth East London268,678 £9,323,127 £34.70
GuildfordEnterprise M3142,958 £724,102 £5.07
GwyneddWest Wales and the Valleys122,273 £12,414,081 £101.53
HackneyNorth East London263,150 £9,131,305 £34.70
HaltonLiverpool City Region126,354 £1,862,654 £14.74
HambletonYork, North Yorkshire & East Riding89,828 £1,654,438 £18.42
Hammersmith and FulhamNorth West London178,365 £6,189,266 £34.70
HarboroughLeicester and Leicestershire88,008 £2,596,429 £29.50
HaringeyNorth East London267,541 £9,283,673 £34.70
HarlowSouth East84,564 £1,002,127 £11.85
HarrogateLeeds City Region157,267 £1,812,212 £11.52
HarrowNorth West London246,011 £8,536,582 £34.70
HartEnterprise M393,325 £472,704 £5.07
HartlepoolTEES Valley92,590 £3,001,049 £32.41
HastingsSouth East91,093 £1,079,499 £11.85
HavantSolent122,210 £459,918 £3.76
HaveringNorth East London245,974 £8,535,298 £34.70
Herefordshire, County ofThe Marches187,160 £1,759,597 £9.40
HertsmereHertfordshire102,427 £1,346,112 £13.14
High PeakD2N291,364 £1,468,762 £16.08
HillingdonNorth West London292,690 £10,156,343 £34.70
Hinckley and BosworthLeicester and Leicestershire107,722 £3,178,035 £29.50
HorshamCoast to Capital134,158 £587,374 £4.38
HounslowNorth West London265,568 £9,215,210 £34.70
HuntingdonshireGreater Cambridge/Peterborough173,605 £1,703,209 £9.81
HyndburnLancashire80,208 £2,812,285 £35.06
IpswichNew Anglia134,966 £1,158,391 £8.58
Isle of AngleseyWest Wales and the Valleys70,169 £7,124,088 £101.53
Isle of WightSolent139,105 £523,499 £3.76
IslingtonCentral London221,030 £7,669,741 £34.70
Kensington and ChelseaCentral London156,190 £5,419,793 £34.70
KetteringSEMLEP96,945 £604,114 £6.23
King's Lynn and West NorfolkGreater Cambridge/Peterborough150,026 £1,471,879 £9.81
Kingston upon Hull, City ofHumber257,710 £13,111,111 £50.88
Kingston upon ThamesSouth London169,958 £5,897,543 £34.70
KirkleesLeeds City Region431,020 £4,966,711 £11.52
KnowsleyLiverpool City Region146,407 £2,158,266 £14.74
LambethCentral London318,216 £11,042,095 £34.70
LancasterLancashire141,277 £4,953,510 £35.06
LeedsLeeds City Region766,399 £8,831,337 £11.52
LeicesterLeicester and Leicestershire337,653 £9,961,502 £29.50
LewesSouth East100,229 £1,187,765 £11.85
LewishamCentral London291,933 £10,130,075 £34.70
LichfieldGreater Birmingham and Solihull102,093 £5,671,882 £55.56
LincolnGreater Lincolnshire96,202 £1,397,985 £14.53
LiverpoolLiverpool City Region473,073 £6,973,829 £14.74
LutonSEMLEP210,962 £1,314,613 £6.23
MaidstoneSouth East161,819 £1,917,638 £11.85
MaldonSouth East62,767 £743,821 £11.85
Malvern HillsWorcestershire75,911 £1,730,092 £22.79
ManchesterGreater Manchester520,215 £20,516,140 £39.44
MansfieldD2N2105,893 £1,702,329 £16.08
MedwaySouth East274,015 £3,247,219 £11.85
MeltonLeicester and Leicestershire50,969 £1,503,697 £29.50
MendipHeart of South West110,844 £2,873,357 £25.92
Merthyr TydfilWest Wales and the Valleys59,065 £5,996,726 £101.53
MertonSouth London203,515 £7,061,971 £34.70
Mid DevonHeart of South West79,198 £2,053,013 £25.92
Mid SuffolkNew Anglia99,121 £850,739 £8.58
Mid SussexCoast to Capital144,377 £632,115 £4.38
MiddlesbroughTEES Valley139,119 £4,509,158 £32.41
Milton KeynesSEMLEP259,245 £1,615,489 £6.23
Mole ValleyCoast to Capital86,234 £377,552 £4.38
MonmouthshireEast Wales92,336 £3,873,056 £41.95
Neath Port TalbotWest Wales and the Valleys140,490 £14,263,609 £101.53
New ForestSolent178,907 £673,288 £3.76
Newark and SherwoodD2N2117,758 £1,893,070 £16.08
Newcastle upon TyneNorth East289,835 £7,521,042 £25.95
Newcastle-under-LymeStoke and Staffordshire126,052 £6,309,029 £50.05
NewhamNorth East London324,322 £11,253,973 £34.70
NewportEast Wales146,841 £6,159,282 £41.95
North DevonHeart of South West94,059 £2,438,248 £25.92
North DorsetDorset70,043 £1,522,931 £21.74
North East DerbyshireSheffield City Region99,352 £1,104,449 £11.12
North East LincolnshireGreater Lincolnshire159,804 £2,322,234 £14.53
North HertfordshireGreater Cambridge/Peterborough131,046 £1,285,670 £9.81
North KestevenGreater Lincolnshire111,046 £1,613,694 £14.53
North LincolnshireGreater Lincolnshire169,247 £2,459,458 £14.53
North NorfolkNew Anglia102,867 £882,891 £8.58
North SomersetWest of England208,154 £2,306,674 £11.08
North TynesideNorth East202,744 £5,261,083 £25.95
North WarwickshireCoventry and Warwickshire62,468 £904,042 £14.47
North West LeicestershireLeicester and Leicestershire95,882 £2,828,729 £29.50
NorthamptonSEMLEP219,495 £1,367,786 £6.23
NorthumberlandNorth East315,987 £8,199,670 £25.95
NorwichNew Anglia137,472 £1,179,900 £8.58
NottinghamD2N2314,268 £5,052,153 £16.08
Nuneaton and BedworthCoventry and Warwickshire126,174 £1,826,001 £14.47
Oadby and WigstonLeicester and Leicestershire55,928 £1,649,998 £29.50
OldhamGreater Manchester228,765 £9,021,991 £39.44
OxfordOxfordshire157,997 £841,586 £5.33
PembrokeshireWest Wales and the Valleys123,666 £12,555,509 £101.53
PendleLancashire89,840 £3,150,006 £35.06
PeterboroughGreater Cambridge/Peterborough190,461 £1,868,580 £9.81
PlymouthHeart of South West261,546 £6,779,935 £25.92
PooleDorset150,109 £3,263,790 £21.74
PortsmouthSolent209,085 £786,858 £3.76
PowysEast Wales132,675 £5,565,085 £41.95
PrestonLancashire140,452 £4,924,584 £35.06
PurbeckDorset45,679 £993,189 £21.74
ReadingThames Valley and Berkshire160,825 £935,768 £5.82
RedbridgeNorth East London293,055 £10,169,009 £34.70
Redcar and ClevelandTEES Valley135,042 £4,377,014 £32.41
RedditchGreater Birmingham and Solihull84,471 £4,692,874 £55.56
Reigate and BansteadCoast to Capital143,094 £626,497 £4.38
Rhondda Cynon TafWest Wales and the Valleys236,888 £24,050,664 £101.53
Ribble ValleyLancashire58,091 £2,036,810 £35.06
Richmond upon ThamesSouth London193,585 £6,717,400 £34.70
RichmondshireYork, North Yorkshire & East Riding52,729 £971,155 £18.42
RochdaleGreater Manchester212,962 £8,398,755 £39.44
RochfordSouth East84,776 £1,004,639 £11.85
RossendaleLancashire69,168 £2,425,196 £35.06
RotherSouth East92,130 £1,091,788 £11.85
RotherhamSheffield City Region260,070 £2,891,075 £11.12
RugbyCoventry and Warwickshire102,500 £1,483,388 £14.47
RunnymedeEnterprise M384,584 £428,430 £5.07
RushcliffeD2N2113,670 £1,827,352 £16.08
RushmoorEnterprise M395,296 £482,687 £5.07
RutlandGreater Cambridge/Peterborough38,022 £373,027 £9.81
RyedaleYork, North Yorkshire & East Riding52,655 £969,792 £18.42
SalfordGreater Manchester242,040 £9,545,528 £39.44
SandwellBlack Country316,719 £11,491,838 £36.28
ScarboroughYork, North Yorkshire & East Riding108,006 £1,989,238 £18.42
SedgemoorHeart of South West119,057 £3,086,259 £25.92
SeftonLiverpool City Region273,531 £4,032,271 £14.74
SelbyLeeds City Region85,355 £983,559 £11.52
SevenoaksSouth East117,811 £1,396,121 £11.85
SheffieldSheffield City Region563,749 £6,266,931 £11.12
ShepwaySouth East109,452 £1,297,062 £11.85
ShropshireThe Marches310,121 £2,915,623 £9.40
SloughThames Valley and Berkshire144,575 £841,217 £5.82
SolihullGreater Birmingham and Solihull209,890 £11,660,655 £55.56
South BucksWest Wales and the Valleys68,512 £6,955,857 £101.53
South CambridgeshireGreater Cambridge/Peterborough153,281 £1,503,813 £9.81
South DerbyshireD2N298,374 £1,581,454 £16.08
South GloucestershireWest of England271,556 £3,009,269 £11.08
South HamsHeart of South West84,108 £2,180,292 £25.92
South HollandGreater Lincolnshire90,419 £1,313,948 £14.53
South KestevenGreater Lincolnshire137,981 £2,005,108 £14.53
South LakelandCumbria103,271 £4,229,144 £40.95
South NorfolkNew Anglia129,226 £1,109,126 £8.58
South NorthamptonshireSEMLEP88,164 £549,395 £6.23
South OxfordshireOxfordshire137,015 £729,824 £5.33
South RibbleLancashire109,077 £3,824,501 £35.06
South SomersetHeart of South West164,569 £4,266,046 £25.92
South StaffordshireStoke and Staffordshire110,692 £5,540,245 £50.05
South TynesideNorth East148,740 £3,859,712 £25.95
SouthamptonSolent245,290 £923,109 £3.76
Southend-on-SeaSouth East177,931 £2,108,574 £11.85
SouthwarkCentral London302,538 £10,498,069 £34.70
SpelthorneEnterprise M398,106 £496,920 £5.07
St AlbansHertfordshire144,834 £1,903,431 £13.14
St EdmundsburyGreater Cambridge/Peterborough112,073 £1,099,529 £9.81
St. HelensLiverpool City Region177,188 £2,612,026 £14.74
StaffordStoke and Staffordshire132,241 £6,618,794 £50.05
Staffordshire MoorlandsStoke and Staffordshire97,763 £4,893,136 £50.05
StevenageHertfordshire85,997 £1,130,186 £13.14
StockportGreater Manchester286,755 £11,308,989 £39.44
Stockton-on-TeesTEES Valley194,119 £6,291,831 £32.41
Stoke-on-TrentStoke and Staffordshire251,027 £12,564,153 £50.05
Stratford-on-AvonCoventry and Warwickshire121,056 £1,751,932 £14.47
StroudGloucestershire115,093 £2,376,021 £20.64
Suffolk CoastalNew Anglia124,776 £1,070,932 £8.58
SunderlandNorth East276,889 £7,185,101 £25.95
Surrey HeathEnterprise M387,533 £443,367 £5.07
SuttonSouth London198,134 £6,875,250 £34.70
SwaleSouth East140,836 £1,668,979 £11.85
SwanseaWest Wales and the Valleys241,297 £24,498,299 £101.53
SwindonSwindon and Wiltshire215,799 £5,412,262 £25.08
TamesideGreater Manchester220,771 £8,706,725 £39.44
TamworthGreater Birmingham and Solihull77,112 £4,284,037 £55.56
TandridgeCoast to Capital85,374 £373,786 £4.38
Taunton DeaneHeart of South West112,817 £2,924,503 £25.92
TeignbridgeHeart of South West127,360 £3,301,494 £25.92
Telford and WrekinThe Marches169,440 £1,593,001 £9.40
TendringSouth East139,916 £1,658,077 £11.85
Test ValleySolent119,332 £449,087 £3.76
TewkesburyGloucestershire85,784 £1,770,956 £20.64
ThanetSouth East138,410 £1,640,230 £11.85
Three RiversHertfordshire90,423 £1,188,353 £13.14
ThurrockSouth East163,270 £1,934,833 £11.85
Tonbridge and MallingSouth East124,426 £1,474,512 £11.85
TorbayHeart of South West132,984 £3,447,282 £25.92
TorfaenWest Wales and the Valleys91,609 £9,300,840 £101.53
TorridgeHeart of South West65,618 £1,700,985 £25.92
Tower HamletsNorth East London284,015 £9,855,321 £34.70
TraffordGreater Manchester232,458 £9,167,634 £39.44
Tunbridge WellsSouth East116,105 £1,375,904 £11.85
UttlesfordGreater Cambridge/Peterborough84,042 £824,522 £9.81
Vale of GlamorganEast Wales127,685 £5,355,779 £41.95
Vale of White HorseOxfordshire124,852 £665,036 £5.33
WakefieldLeeds City Region331,379 £3,818,533 £11.52
WalsallBlack Country274,173 £9,948,098 £36.28
Waltham ForestNorth East London268,020 £9,300,294 £34.70
WandsworthCentral London312,145 £10,831,432 £34.70
WarringtonCheshire and Warrington206,428 £6,558,173 £31.77
WarwickCoventry and Warwickshire139,396 £2,017,350 £14.47
WatfordHertfordshire95,505 £1,255,142 £13.14
WaveneyNew Anglia115,919 £994,914 £8.58
WaverleyEnterprise M3122,860 £622,303 £5.07
WealdenSouth East154,767 £1,834,069 £11.85
WellingboroughNorthamptonshire76,446 £3,103,592 £40.60
Welwyn HatfieldHertfordshire116,024 £1,524,806 £13.14
West BerkshireThames Valley and Berkshire155,732 £906,134 £5.82
West DevonHeart of South West54,260 £1,406,557 £25.92
West DorsetDorset100,474 £2,184,586 £21.74
West LancashireLancashire111,940 £3,924,885 £35.06
West LindseyGreater Lincolnshire91,787 £1,333,827 £14.53
West OxfordshireOxfordshire108,158 £576,114 £5.33
West SomersetHeart of South West34,322 £889,713 £25.92
WestminsterCentral London233,292 £8,095,232 £34.70
Weymouth and PortlandDorset64,992 £1,413,108 £21.74
WiganGreater Manchester320,975 £12,658,551 £39.44
WiltshireSwindon and Wiltshire483,143 £12,117,278 £25.08
WinchesterSolent119,218 £448,658 £3.76
Windsor and MaidenheadThames Valley and Berkshire147,400 £857,654 £5.82
WirralLiverpool City Region320,914 £4,730,769 £14.74
WokingEnterprise M399,426 £503,606 £5.07
WokinghamThames Valley and Berkshire159,097 £925,713 £5.82
WolverhamptonBlack Country252,987 £9,179,385 £36.28
WorcesterWorcestershire100,842 £2,298,295 £22.79
WorthingCoast to Capital106,863 £467,870 £4.38
WrexhamEast Wales136,714 £5,734,502 £41.95
WychavonWorcestershire119,752 £2,729,274 £22.79
WycombeBuckinghamshire Thames Valley174,878 £982,928 £5.62
WyreLancashire108,742 £3,812,755 £35.06
Wyre ForestGreater Birmingham and Solihull98,960 £5,497,825 £55.56
YorkLeeds City Region204,439 £2,355,783 £11.52
Grand56,995,412

I carried out a small piece of work to help identify further savings in 2014, when George Osborne first floated the idea of further cuts in welfare spending. As a best case scenario, I was able to identify savings of £9.8 billion, see the table below for the options.

Possible Future Welfare Savings

September 2019October 2019October 2021
40% of £317 = £12730% of £317 = £9530% of £317 = £95
£127 multiplied by 12 months recovery period =
£1,522
£95 multiplied by 12 months recovery period =
£1,141
£95 multiplied by 16 months recovery period =
£1,521

For a fuller explanation of the savings estimates above, please leave a comment or contact us.

Other suggestions based on analysis from the IFS includes:

  • the already announced freeze on benefit rates, which would save about £1.5bn
  • means testing child benefit which would save about £5bn

Other ideas involve further reductions in out of work benefit levels (child tax credit, housing benefit) or increasing the withdrawal rate of benefits, which would hit employment prospects the hardest, and undo the good intentions of Universal Credit.

The Importance of the Frontline Advisor

Talking about the billions of pounds that needs to be saved can distract people from having to consider the case by case support that the benefit system provides to millions of out of work and in-work households across the United Kingdom.

Our work with frontline advisors at local authorities, housing associations and employment service organisations highlights to us everyday the challenges faced at the sharp-end, by their residents and customers.

We work with the men and women who have to explain welfare policy and the changes from year to year to their customers, and make the welfare system work as best it can.

  • Advisors in Oxford help their residents to take active steps toward independence, alongside the immediate support provided by discretionary housing payments.
  • In Lewisham, advisors told us how surprised they were at the level of need faced by residents affected by the benefit cap, and how important their work was in helping them to take supported steps toward employment.
  • Advisors at Serco and at Jobcentre Plus have told us about the challenges of working with a benefit system where the belief, all too often justified, is that work doesn’t pay and the importance of being able to carry out quick, simple and accurate better off in work calculation.
  • We have worked with up to five different teams within one housing association, each of them asking for the same information from their residents over and over again, helplessly aware of how frustrating this is for them and their customers.

Frontline advisors need to be supported to explain changes in the welfare system, to direct their support where it will be most effective and to influence welfare policy with their experience of how it affects people, where cost-effective policy changes can be made, and how people can best be supported into work.

More Welfare Cuts Will Affect People Already In Poverty

Each political party wants to be the party of working people, and each party wants to make savings in the welfare budget. There is a common consensus (see the Daily Politics debate on welfare spending here) that work is the best route out of poverty, and this, in turn, would help reduce the benefit bill.

However, each political party needs to say where the welfare savings will come from, whether these will be from ‘pockets’ or ‘prospects’, and who will be affected.

Like us, they could learn some valuable lessons by speaking to the advisors on the frontline who deal with real people already affected by poverty, every day.

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