Britain’s “porous” safety net has left the poorest households inadequately protected against major economic disruption, in a major report, the Resolution Foundation claimed.
A “weak” welfare system is “almost unrecognisable” to that created in the aftermath of the Second World War and William Beveridge’s seminal report.
It warns that cuts to cost-based benefits since 2010 “mean Britain goes into the 2020s with a porous safety net that leaves too many in poverty and offers little, and highly variable, insurance for workers whose jobs are affected by economic change”.
The authors of the report highlight that government's “extra spending has not been driven by more generous income support, which has consistently fallen further behind average earrings.”
Unemployment support is set to “fall to its lowest real-terms values in just over three decades this April, at just £77.29 a week”.
Karl Handscomb, a senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said:
“Our social security system has seen huge change over the last 75 years, leaving us with a benefits system that makes little attempt to provide basic levels of income support, but doing more to support households with specific costs like housing and children.
“With even those cost-related benefits cut back over the past decade, we go into the 2020s with a porous safety net.
He added: “The result is the poorest members of society are being left further behind, while many are left with little by way of insurance if their jobs are threatened by economic change. These flaws were exposed on the eve of the pandemic, and forced the Chancellor to radically reinvent our welfare system at very short notice.”
Alex Beer, programme head at the Nuffield Foundation, added: “As this research shows, over time the protection given to people who lose their jobs has fallen to a level that only just enables them to avoid destitution and that is damaging not only to the people affected but also to the ability of our society to respond to economic change.”