Thumbs down to IDS reforms

Left Foot Forward summarises the concerns being expressed across the devolved nations to Iain Duncan Smith's proposed shake up of the benefits system.

Last Friday, Iain Duncan-Smith published what he described as the coalition government’s plans to “fundamentally change” the Welfare system.

His reforms centred around three options:

• Combining elements of income-related benefits and tax credits.

Bringing the roughly 50 jobless benefits together into a single “universal credit”.

• Supplementing monthly household earnings through credit payments reflecting circumstances such as children, housing and disability.

Left Foot Forward summarises the concerns being expressed across the devolved nations to the proposed shake up.


In Scotland, much of the analysis has been made by Rights Advice Scotland in research for the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty (SLGFAP), comprised of councillors across the country. The research has shown that the cumulative loss to the Scottish economy as a result of the loss of Incapacity Benefit and reductions in Disability Living Allowance could be at least £480 million.

The organisation’s chair, Cllr Willie Hogg, explains:  

“By 2013 just two of the changes will together remove more around £480m from the Scottish economy. This will clearly have a devastating impact on the incomes of the individuals and families affected, but the wider impact is no less serious.

“A domino effect will see entitlement to other support and benefits being reduced, leading to further deductions in income. Local businesses will suffer as a result of reduced spending, jobs will be lost and Scotland’s local authorities will see a huge increase in demand for services.

“The changes must no longer be judged in isolation. The collective impact will be dire for Scotland’s councils, businesses and communities.”


Across Wales there are now serious concerns that there could be an 83 per cent increase in the number of people across the country loosing their jobs as they face a reassessment of their needs under the new employment and support allowance (ESA). Ceredigion alone faces a 135 per cent increase in unemployment.

As a spokesperson for the Citizens Advice Bureau has concluded:

“We have grave concerns about how the Work Capability Assessment for ESA is currently working. Evidence from across our bureau network raises serious questions about the effectiveness and quality of the current testing, resulting in the WCA going badly wrong in far too many cases.”

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, much of the concern over the proposed reforms has come from the SDLP, with its leader, Maragret Ritchie, having expressed her worry that the Westminster government is seeking to push people out of benefit and into work at a time when their policies are reducing the number of jobs available.

Just last month there was a warning that Northern Ireland faced a further 14,000 job losses.

Ms Ritchie’s colleague, SDLP social development minister Alex Attwood continued:  

“The cost of big changes, the stress on the social security system and most important of all, the risks of increasing vulnerability for people in need, are just some of the reasons for my deep concerns.

“Last week I went to London, met the Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud and argued that Northern Ireland had particular circumstances, including high levels of deprivation and the impact of the conflict on people’s lives and experience.

“These factors, the character of proposed reforms and the fact that Northern Ireland will remain in recession until the end of 2012 at least, all means Northern Ireland needs both a ‘time-out’ from yet more welfare reform and maximum flexibility around welfare benefits. I believe Lord Freud gave me a fair hearing.

“This twin track approach is a means to find a path through old Tory welfare attitudes presented as coalition new thinking. At the same time, I intend to push on with the conversation around the NI Executive having more control of our financial affairs.”

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13 Responses to “Thumbs down to IDS reforms”

  1. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Thumbs down to IDS reforms: #ConDemNation #FalseEconomy

  2. Andy Sutherland

    RT @leftfootfwd: Thumbs down to IDS reforms: #ConDemNation #FalseEconomy

  3. Pen

    RT @leftfootfwd: Thumbs down to IDS reforms: #ConDemNation #FalseEconomy

  4. Anon E Mouse

    Ed Jacobs – Please can you actually base your article on the “evidence” you link to. In the case of Ceredigion you say; “Ceredigion alone faces a 135 per cent increase in unemployment”

    But the article you link to says; “Ceredigion may be facing a 135% increase (in unemployment)”

    The MAY is pretty crucial and I happen to disagree with your article and I speak from actual experience.

    My partner fills out benefit forms for her service users for Caerphilly Social Services and I can assure you this system is a typical over bureaucratic Labour nightmare.

    Anything that can be done to simplify this stupid system should be welcomed.

    Your articles on LFF are usually well balanced Ed and I feel you should at least ensure your quotes are accurate…

  5. Neil O'Brien

    I don’t understand. The headline says “Thumbs down to IDS reforms”, but then goes on to attack ESA, which was introduced by Labour.

    The “losses for Scotland” (er, what about Scotland’s taxpayers?) are also based on the abolition of Incapacity Benefit, (again, something that Labour did) plus the introduction of a medical test so that disability living allowance only goes to people who are disabled. This is pretty hard to object to, and something that at least one Labour DWP minister wanted to do.

  6. Kevin

    Simplification of the system is long overdue but the basis on which they wish to transform the system, that of relating payments to jobs/work can only occur when and if they tackle the lack of jobs available reviewing the system is fine but the implementation without every aspect for safety of the disabled being in place would be a disaster.
    Best solution to most of the problem of lack of jobs would be to GET OUT OF EUROPE NOW.
    I predict a riot.

  7. Reactions To IDS Benefit Reform Announcement « Same Difference

    […] Friday, IDS announced plans for a major reform of the benefit system. Today, Ed Jacobs has summarised reactions to these reforms from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales over at mainstream political […]

  8. Lynda Edwards

    Perhaps IDS would like to be out of work for the past near decade like I have!

    When I was made redundant in early 2001 I fully expected to walk into another full-time job. My problem? I was “old” at 50 and considered past it by most of the employers and agencies I approached.

    I even lived on my own savings for over 3 years until they ran right down – the Jobcentre had the cheek to put me on Income-Based JSA as I “hadn’t paid NI for the previous two years – I would have been better off I had spent my own money and become a parasite on the state while trying to find work. I have actually paid in 35 years during my life in office work – during my time jobseeking I have worked as a charity shop volunteer (6 years) in order to expand my skills to those of retail. Since then the jobs market has been flooded out with redundant shop workers so no joy there.

    I am now 60 and would have retired last weekend if it were not for the last government pushing back my pension age to November! I intend signing off from the Jobcentre earlier than then as I will be having two company pensions coming in.

    Why not have a Volunteer Allowance for unemployed people who are prepared to work for a certain amount of hours for a charity or other worthy cause? This could be good as many people who are near to retirement and will find it difficult to find work for short contracts.

    One job I applied for last year apparently had 1,000 applicants – in Norwich which is apparently a “good” area for employment!

    IDS – get real!

  9. sarah

    Volunteer Allowance is a great idea!

  10. Mr. Sensible

    As someone else rightly says, IDS’s government is cutting jobs across the public and private sectors.

    What’s that going to do to improve things?

  11. Anon E Mouse

    Lynda – Since you have been out of work for a decade, a period totally covered by that last useless Labour government, why don’t you complain about the fact that for thirteen years they abandoned you?

    Since your situation clearly wasn’t improved by anything at all that they did why not be more positive about changes that may just help?

    (I don’t think sixty is old btw)

    Mr.Sensible – How many jobs have been cut so far?

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