Gaps in welfare safety net still pose risk Committee says

30 March 2016

The Work and Pensions Committee has published the Government's response to its report on the Local welfare safety net.

Government response key points

In its response the Government:

  • Confirmed that, as recommended by the Committee, recipients of Carer’s Allowance will be exempt from the Benefit Cap.
  • Agreed with the Committee that public service co-location should be explored in all Jobcentre Plus districts. The Committee will follow this up in its recently announced Future of Jobcentre Plus inquiry.
  • Dismissed the Committee’s concerns about local approaches to Council Tax support that may have contributed to council tax arrears and use of courts summonses and bailiffs by councils as a means of raising revenue.
  • Rejected the Committee’s recommendation of "a cross-departmental evaluation of the adequacy and effectiveness of the local welfare safety net in preventing severe hardship and destitution".

Committee comments

Karen Buck, Committee Member said:

"We were concerned by evidence that some councils were using court summonses and bailiffs to pursue revenue from people who would previously have been given Council Tax support. If people are chased into expensive private payday debt by councils this causes much bigger problems down the line. I would like to see the Government look at these concerns more carefully."

Frank Field, Chair of the Committee, said:

"We were pleased that the Government has chosen to exempt recipients of Carer’s Allowance from the Benefit Cap. We were disappointed, however, that the Department did not commit to a proper evaluation of the adequacy and effectiveness of the localised welfare safety net. Because of this failure, any holes leave open the risk of vulnerable people falling into severe hardship."

Further information

Image: PA

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