COMMONS

Contributory Welfare State investigated by Committee

22 December 2015

The Work and Pensions Committee agreed to hold an initial seminar with experts on the possibility of converting the eligibility for welfare as we know it in this country to one based on a combination of residency and contributions.

Focus of the seminar

Among the issues to be considered at the seminar are:

  • the length of time a residency condition could be placed on access to the welfare state so that existing citizens of the UK become eligible, but new arrivals are barred from membership
  • for those of working age, at what level could a financial contribution be set
  • how a contributory welfare state should credit, for example, citizens who carry out caring responsibilities

Chair's comment

Frank Field MP, Chairman of the Committee said:

"As the Prime Minister stumbles over renegotiations with the EU in attempts to limit the entitlement of European migrants to British welfare, the Work and Pensions Select Committee will begin immediately after Christmas building up a plan B with entrance to the welfare state based on residency and contributions.

There are two reasons why the Committee will be exploring this area. First, over a long period of time, voters have been withdrawing support for Britain's welfare state on the basis that they believe it is no longer fair. The polls report that a large proportion of voters believe welfare should only be offered to fellow citizens who fulfil contributory conditions. The Select Committee, as it is concerned with building support for welfare, will consider this issue.

Second, the Prime Minister is going nowhere with his negotiations over a four-year bar on in-work benefits to new arrivals into this country. I think he should stop wasting this time on this front and link his renegotiations with the EU to a major reform of welfare that would ensure we had a national welfare state and not an international welfare state, thereby initiating the most serious reform of welfare since the 1945 Labour Government."

Further information

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