Is Universal Credit undermining the principles of the welfare state?

Posted on 30 October 2017

A paper by Peter Dwyer and Sharon Wright has been cited during a parliamentary debate on Universal Credit.

Universal Credit, ubiquitous conditionality and its implications for social citizenship investigates the increasingly-prevalent concept of welfare conditionality: the idea that the right to claim benefits depends on 'responsible' behaviour.

Neil Gray, MP for Airdrie and Shotts (SNP), cited the paper during a heated debate in the House of Commons last week, calling for the government to reconsider changes to work allowances, housing benefit and employment support (House of Commons, Tuesday 24 October 2017, 14:44:00).

Universal Credit is designed to simplify the benefits system, reduce fraud and error, and make work pay. However its critics claim that poor implementation and punitive sanctions will dramatically decrease living conditions for many welfare recipients.

In the paper, Dwyer and Wright argue that Universal Credit represents a fundamental change to the principles of the welfare state in Britain. It is major step towards increasing welfare conditionality, which will have a severe implications for poorer citizens.