MPs: Slow down benefit reform to help jobless learn to budget

Tim Wallace
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THE GOVERNMENT is pushing ahead with its benefit reforms too quickly to properly assess the costs and benefits, according to a new report out today from the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

The universal benefits system is designed to simplify the current array of six different out of work benefits, link benefits more closely with job-seeking, and withdraw benefits for up to three years from those who abuse the system.

But MPs fear the change may be too quick for those claimants who are not used to taking responsibility for themselves.

Under the new system, benefits will be given out each month, not each week, which MPs warned will be difficult for those not used to budgeting. And paying housing benefit to claimants, not landlords, again may hurt poor budgeters.

“Time needs to be allowed for a proper evaluation of the pilots which the government is running on direct payments to tenants, after safety net arrangements for vulnerable people have been developed and tested,” explained committee chair Dame Anne Begg.