The Commons Work and Pensions Committee is to explore the possibility of “major reforms” to Britain’s welfare state, which could permanently change eligibility rules for social security benefits in the UK.
MPs will hold a seminar with experts to explore ways of limiting access to welfare based on a combination of residency and contributions.
Among the issues being considered is the length of time a residency condition could be placed on access to the welfare state. UK citizens would be eligible, but new arrivals to the UK could be barred from claiming benefits.
MPs will also consider at what level a financial contribution could be set, ensuring that more people contribute to the new system before becoming eligible to claim.
However, a reformed welfare system would continue to take into account the personal circumstances of individual claimants, such as crediting those with caring responsibilities.
Frank Field MP, Chairman of the Committee said:
“As the Prime Minister stumbles over renegotiations with the EU in attempts to limit the entitlement of European migrants to British welfare, the Work and Pensions Select Committee will begin immediately after Christmas building up a plan B with entrance to the welfare state based on residency and contributions.
“There are two reasons why the Committee will be exploring this. First, over a long period of time, voters have been withdrawing support for Britain’s welfare state on the basis that they believe it is no longer fair.
“The polls report that a large proportion of voters believe welfare should only be offered to fellow citizens who fulfill contributory conditions. The Select Committee, as it is concerned with building support for welfare, will consider this issue.
“Second, the Prime Minister is going nowhere with his negotiations over a four-year bar on new arrivals into this country.
“I think he should stop wasting this time on this front and link his renegotiations with the EU to a major reform of welfare that would ensure we had a national welfare state and not an international welfare state, thereby initiating the most serious reform of welfare since the 1945 Labour Government.”
The changes being considered appear to be similar to the contributory-based benefits system envisioned by William Beveridge, who was first to consider a national system of benefits commonly known as ‘social security’. It meant UK citizens would be protected from the ‘cradle to the grave’.
The system was based on the national insurance scheme set up by Lloyd George in 1911. Working people were still expected to contribute to the new system but received higher amounts in benefits.
Beveridge’s social reforms also included the establishment of a National Health Service in 1948, providing free medical treatment for all who needed it – regardless of wealth or status.
This news article is based on a press release published by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee.