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Public consultation on proposals for a better benefits system

Author: Trust for London

A ground-breaking public consultation on proposals for a better UK social security system launches today; all solutions have been developed by those with direct experience of the system.

Following a call for solutions for a better benefits system which received over 1000 responses, the public are being asked what they think about the ideas. The public consultation is being led bythe Commission on Social Security – all Commissioners are Experts by Experience who have lived experience of the benefits system.

Ideas in the proposals include:

  • Establishing a Guaranteed Decent Income so everyone has a secure, reasonable amount of money coming in
  • Getting rid of the benefit cap
  • Raising Child Benefit to £50 per child per week
  • Ending zero hours contracts
  • A social model approach to disability benefit

Input is invited from anyone interested in improving the benefits system: Experts by Experience, user-led groups and claimants, think tanks and charities, policy-makers and the general public. Following the public consultation, a ‘White Paper’ with policy recommendations will be drawn up.

What’s distinctive about the process is that it puts centre stage the knowhow of people who understand what it is like to be on benefits. Last year, through a Call for Solutions, benefit claimants were asked how they think the benefits system can be improved. Respondents were asked eight questions, ranging from how to make Universal Credit better, to the ideal level of benefit payment, to what best to do about benefit sanctions. The Call for Solutions generated over 1000 submissions with hundreds of suggestions on how to create a fairer system. These suggestions were then reviewed by the Commission which is now putting forward eight ideas it has identified, for public consultation.

“Too often the people who design welfare policies do not have first hand experience of the lives of those their policy aims to serve. This project is different; placing the experiences and understandings of those in direct contact with the system at its centre. We had a brilliant response to the Call for Solutions and we’re excited to launch this public consultation to get the public’s view on the ideas. The public consultation will feed into a ‘White Paper’ which will offer a transformational alternative to the current benefits system.”

Ellen Clifford, Co-Chair of the Commission on Social Security and disability activist

“One of the big questions is how things are going to be paid for. Me and the other Commissioners say the government has a lot of power when it comes to money and choice. The ability to make or borrow more money. The option to set higher taxes for rich people or businesses. It means there is enough money for social security for all.”

Barry McDonald, Expert by Experience Commissioner

“We’re incredibly excited to be supporting this pioneering project which puts people with experience of the benefits system at the heart of redesigning it. The system we currently have is not working for far too many people. This project aims to create a consensus around what a new system that works for our society and the individuals in it, would look like.”

Bharat Mehta, Chief Executive at Trust for London

To respond to the public consultation, visit the Commission's dedicated website. The consultation closes on 30 September 2020.