New universal credit will make work pay: Cameron

PRIME Minister David Cameron yesterday promised his new welfare reforms would “make work pay” and simplify the benefits system.

The changes would replace all existing working age benefits with a single “universal credit,” and ensure that claimants are always better off when they find work, Cameron claimed.

“The benefit system has created a benefit culture,” Cameron said.

“It doesn’t just allow people to act irresponsibly, but often actively encourages them to do so.”

There were 5.7m working age benefit claimants at May 2010, according to the Department of Work and Pensions. New figures were scheduled for release this week, but have been delayed by the department.

“Cameron’s plan is well intentioned, but I am not confident it will actually work,” commented Patrick Nolan, economist at the think tank Reform.

Merging benefits together may not simplify the system, Nolan said, particularly when benefit conditions remain complex. “We are also not confident that ‘smart automation’ will work, given experience of existing benefit systems,” he said.