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View from the house: Compassionate social security system

PUBLISHED: 08:30 24 October 2020

Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith wants a joined up welfare system. Picture: PA Images

Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith wants a joined up welfare system. Picture: PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

We must create a truly compassionate social security system that helps change lives for the better.

When we look back at this pandemic, we will be grateful for Universal Credit.

Between March and August, those claiming unemployment support rose by over 120 per cent to 2.7 million. If we were still on the paper-based legacy system, we would have had unemployment queues snaking round city centres.

Successful though Universal Credit has been, it is not the end of the welfare reform story.

Unemployment will unfortunately be the long tail of this pandemic. With forecasts of up to four million job-seeking by the end of this year, the next task must be how to support people back into work.

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Unemployment is not just the loss of an income but can also be the loss of a sense of purpose, identity and dignity.

Universal Support was part of my design for Universal Credit right from the beginning.

Universal Support is a wrap-around service, run by local authorities, that helps welfare claimants tackle barriers to personal progress.

Claimants are helped to stabilise their housing situation, deal with burdensome debt, develop employment skills or make a medical appointment. These personalised support programmes are very effective and have been proven to support claimants back into work.

There is unfinished business in updating our welfare system.

Now, more than ever, Universal Credit needs to be joined with Universal Support, creating a truly compassionate social security system that helps change lives for the better.


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