Fair welfare

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After 30 years of welfare reform the public could be forgiven for failing to notice any changes. Successive governments have tried both to get spending under control and to ensure that those who need it get help. Neither task has been achieved.

This new report argues for a new way of thinking about welfare and a new approach to reform. 2020 Welfare: Life, Work, Locality, published today by the 2020 Public Services Trust sets out a route to unlocking citizen action and for greater transparency of welfare spending for ordinary people.

Unlocking - the motivation and energy of citizens in their - is the greatest untapped resource of our public services, and especially of our welfare system.  

The report identifies the persistent problems facing welfare policy and looks at how these might be addressed.  It provides three practical directions for policy:

  • Social welfare accounts - clearer visibility of individual contributions (both financial and social) to, and benefits from, the welfare system and broader public services.  This policy is designed to enhance transparency, bolster the legitimacy of services and ‘reconnect finance to purpose'.  It also has the potential to support citizens to take greater responsibility for managing risks across their lifecycle and to encourage, measure and reward greater engagement and social participation.
  • Localised welfare - a ‘whole person' and ‘whole place' approach to welfare based on local control of integrated employment and welfare services. This policy seeks to make better use of information about underlying, interrelated drivers of worklessness at a neighbourhood level. 
  • Integrated welfare - neighbourhoods are supported in alleviating the long-term drivers of disadvantage in their area by working with the wider locality/sub-region to align their intervention with the dynamics of the local labour market and wider economic development strategy.  Ultimately, a regional Living Wage would enable places to lift more people out of welfare support. 

The Commission has identified three systemic shifts in culture, power and finance, which are needed to offer an effective route to reform of public services.  These shifts underlie the proposals identified in this report.

2020 Commissioner Bridget Rosewell, who chaired the Working Group, said:

"Welfare spending is the biggest single element in the government budget.  Tackling this is crucial to financial management as well as providing the help people need.  These three proposals offer a route towards a different way of doing things.  There are no magic bullets here but instead a new process to energise a failed system. 

"The Commission has created a compelling vision of the kinds of change that are needed to reinvigorate public service.  The three shifts in culture, power and finance away from the expert and the centre and towards citizens, their families and communities are vital to creating genuine democracy and effective services."

Ben Lucas, Director of the 2020 Public Services Trust, said:

"It is vital that at a time of dramatic change for public services - when the national debate is about what to cut, when to cut it and how to squeeze out more efficiencies - that local areas get the flexibility to deal with problems and priorities in a cost effective way that calls upon local information and resources.

"A localised approach to welfare and employment addresses many of these problems.  It   enables multiple agencies to integrate their services for more effective solutions to local and/or regional problems. Local authorities and their partners should agree how they can best engage and energise local communities to help deliver those outcomes."


For more information please contact Ashish Prashar on 07775 501 839


Notes to Editors

  • 2020 Welfare: Life, Work , Locality - The current welfare system is based upon a model of individual incentives, sanctions and the strict monitoring of individual compliance.  Instead, 2020 Welfare calls for a dynamic, integrated and more transparent approach that considers citizens within the context of their pasts, future aspirations, family relationships and local communities.  It also suggests how welfare could be designed to increase personal responsibility and to make greater use of broader social capacity.  In fiscally constrained times it is important public services harness this capacity for ‘social productivity', but for a truly sustainable, effective welfare system we need to ground our sense of individual entitlement and citizenship within the wider collective.  Download the report.

  • The 2020 Public Services Trust is a registered charity (no. 1124095), based at the RSA. It is not aligned with any political party and operates with independence and impartiality. The Trust exists to stimulate deeper understanding of the challenges facing public services in the medium term. Through research, inquiry and discourse, it aims to develop rigorous and practical solutions, capable of sustaining support across all political parties.  For more information about the Trust please visit www.2020publicservicestrust.org
  • The Trust launched the Commission on 2020 Public Services in December 2008, to recommend the characteristics of a new public services settlement appropriate for the future needs and aspirations of citizens, and the best practical arrangements for its implementation.
  • Commission members span a wide breadth of political opinion, experience and expertise from academia, business, the voluntary sector, and the public policy and political world.  Sir Andrew Foster is the Chair.  The full list of members can be found here.
  • The Commission's work has been supported by a range of public, private and third sector organisations.  A full list of partners can be found here.

  • The Commission's final report will be published in autumn 2010 in the run-up to the publication of the Coalition Government's Spending Review.


Media Enquiries

For media enquiries please contact:

Ashish Prashar
Stakeholder & Communications Manager
+44 (0)7775 501 839

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