Welfare provision for citizens of England, as a percentage of GDP, surpasses most countries in the World. Only France and Belgium provide slightly more by a small margin.
As such, we have a very generous and well funded welfare system.
It is a major challenge to manage costs and deliver a fair compassionate supportive welfare programme. Hard choices need to be made.
The UK welfare system is complex with over 115 available benefits for those who qualify. The present Government’s initiative to create the new ‘Universal Credit’ is an attempt to consolidate only 6 of those benefits, namely:
- Child Tax Credit (CTC)
- Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
- Housing Benefit (HB)
- Income Support (IS)
- JobSeekers Allowance (JSA)
- Working Tax Credit (WTC)
But little has changed with respect to entitlement. This Government lead consolidation only represents a management exercise to reduce the costs of deployment.
Also, the original Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has been replaced by a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Clearly, every benefit has been established and provided for good purpose, so any likelihood of a reduction in these intrinsic benefits is extremely unlikely without the causation of hardship to citizens in need.
To gain a perspective, in 2017 (latest figures worked on) the total welfare budget was £264 billion as outlined below:
|Social Services||£35 bn|
|Incapacity Benefit||£44 bn|
|Housing Benefit||£25 bn|
|Income Support & Tax Credit||£46 bn|
Unfortunately, the welfare budget is only set to increase year-on-year due to a steady increase in the following factors:
population (by increased birth-rate)
medical care facility
- medical technology and facility
So what can be done to mitigate this increase?
The TIME Party will focus on the following areas to maintain control of the welfare budget and encourage a higher degree of self-reliance by all UK citizens.
As noted above, the issue of entitlement has not been addressed by this or previous governments.
Also as noted above, without significant changes to entitlement, underlying factors mean the cost of welfare is likely to mushroom upwards.
This is simply unsustainable and unaffordable. There is no government of any colour who can fund this without either, or both:
- significant increases in taxation, hitting taxpayers very hard in their pocket
- an increase in the current account deficit, leading to unsustainable growth of the national debt.
Therefore the Time Party will take the inevitable and necessary step to restrict entitlement to benefits to UK citizens (defined as those with a British passport and Indefinite-Leave-to-Remain).
UK residents who are not citizens will not be entitled to make a claim. A new Citizen ID scheme (see below) will be introduced to facilitate legitimate claimants accessing their entitlements.
Transitional arrangements will be made to phase out over 3 years all benefits currently paid to non-citizens (15 years for pensions). Non-citizen residents will be able to apply for British citizenship during this time.
The Time Party believes it is wrong to include Pensions under the category of Welfare. Generically they are entitlements, not “welfare” or “benefits”. However for the purposes of comparisons, we will continue with this flawed but inherited categorisation.
The Pensions Acts of 2007, 2011 & 2014 have gone a long way to help reduce the welfare budget by instigating a delay in retirement age to receive the state pension, which also provides de-facto a corresponding increase in Tax & National Insurance revenue, which overall is a binary advantage. The implementation of an increased retirement age will be expedited on a sliding scale until all new retirees are aged 68 by the year 2046.
To appreciate the need for change it must be borne in mind that life expectancy today in 2020 is 86yrs for men and 89yrs for women, where men have a 1 in 10 chance, and women have a 1 in 5 chance, of living to 100yrs!
The Time Party will:
- Support the established Pension Acts reform to increase the normal expected pension age to be 68 years by the year 2046 (which enables set benefits at age 68).
- Allow flexibility for UK citizens to choose a different retirement date from age 60 years onward, whereby their subsequent pension payment will be dependent upon their lifetime NI contribution. Hence, early retirees (60-67yrs) will receive significantly less pension income than late retirees (69+yrs) who will receive an enhanced income compared to the normal state pension at 68 years. The pensions received for life will reflect the chosen age of retirement on a sliding scale, pro-rata.
- Create and build a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) over a 30 year period to gradually replace the present need for NIC contributions. At present the NIC contribution-pool from employees directly pays for all retiree pensions. The SWF, once established, will obviate the need for NIC contributions from employees or employers.
Every citizen will be encouraged to invest in a private pension to supplement their state pension provision.
The Time Party will:
- Support auto-enrolment into approved pension schemes, via company PAYE.
- Encourage private pension contributions in excess of 5% of salary.
- Maintain tax-free contributions.
Constraining welfare expenditure is at least partially related to the difficulty of proving entitlement, and eliminating abuses which arise from exploiting that difficulty.
Introducing Citizen-ID is not a civil liberties issue, as many nay-sayers contest. It is simply the best logistical solution, and other solutions might be more intrusive. The UK is almost alone in not facilitating its citizens to prove their identity and their access to entitlement to services & benefits.
The Time Party will:
- Establish a UK Citizen ID-Card, bio-metrically based, with a visible record of National Insurance number & Medical Health number
- The Government-controlled national UK citizen identity card will be unique for each citizen, which will ensure every UK citizen can be correctly identified by critical service agencies and private institutions operating within the UK.
- UK Citizen ID will only be available to those with a British passport or British nationality, and those with Indefinite-Leave-to-Remain.
- The encrypted smart card (similar to a credit-card) will contain and display:
- Identity number
- National Insurance number
- Medical Health number
- The critical services agencies and private institutions are (but not limited to be)-:
- Hospitals, Polyclinics, GP surgeries, Dentists
- Driver Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA)
- HM Courts, Solicitors, Barristers
- Police, UK Border Control, Fire Service
- MOD establishments
- Inland Revenue, DWP
- Local Councils, Social Services, Job Centres
- Universities, Colleges, Schools
- Banks, Insurance companies
- Investment organisations
- Land registry
- Private Landlords
- Vehicle Hire
- Furthermore, each ID card will be matched with a secure encrypted Government database, which will contain extra permanent and biometric information, as below:
- Date-of-Birth (DOB)
- Eye colour
- Eye Retina-Scan
- Fingerprint (if eye retina-scan not possible)
- Police, Court Records
- Special Information (ie: critically important medical conditions and blood type)
- Masked PIN number
- The PIN number will only be known by the card holder, hence the card holder on legitimate request by a third party may provide access to the Government database for further information. The release of which specific information will remain in the control of the card holder. Certain Government authorities will be able to override the PIN requirement.
While welfare fraud is statistically a small sum in the context of the overall welfare budget, it’s not about statistics. It’s about deliberate abuse which is unacceptable when every penny counts, for individuals and for the system.
The Time Party will:
- Eliminate welfare fraud through the biennial validation of entitlement to welfare
- Instigate a custodial sentence for fraudulent claims by repeat offenders
- Limit Family Support to a maximum of 2 children.
- Recipients of multiple benefits will be capped at the Living Wage Level (except for DLA).
The Time Party will :
- Require Education-Visas for students, limited to the set period of the course, plus 1 year.
- Require Work-Visas for workers, limited to 3 years followed by review and renewal, subject to Government approval on an individual basis.
- Require a prepaid Health Insurance for the Visa period, from an approved insurer or UK Government scheme.
- Require migrants to have their own independent means of support, the monetary level to be set by the Government to ensure their housing and welfare for a period of 1 year.
- Repatriate migrants who no longer have a valid Visa, within 1 month of detection. Freedom to self-present at any port to leave the UK within that month, however detected overstayers to be temporarily held in an approved detention centre offshore.
- Permit one wife and their children (multiple marriages, multiple wives and their children will not be accepted).
- Refuse to link an immigrant’s status to extended family members overseas.
- Return illegal migrants to their country of origin within 1 month of their arrival in the UK. Illegal migrants to be temporarily held in an approved detention centre offshore.
- Refuse UK state legal-aid to illegal migrants.
- Hold transport carriers (air/train/ship/boat) responsible to validate a migrant’s status before embarkation, otherwise the carrier pays for and expedites immediate repatriation. The Government will need to setup a passport/Visa/refugee status check facility, via an approved real-time internet link, available worldwide.
The Time Party will:
- Create a state National Construction Agency for the implementation of specific projects within every regional area in the UK, which will provide training and local employment opportunity for welfare recipients. Thereby, to pay a living wage instead of welfare and keep the previously able-bodied unemployed citizens active.
- The National Construction Agency will expedite the control and construction of social housing and transport infrastructure.
- Create specific colleges to provide vocational re-training programmes. Encourage the disabled to work from home.
- Require young adults to engage in local social and charity work, provided by Government initiatives, to qualify for welfare.
- Revamp the welfare application process to enable temporary workers or the self-employed, when out of work, to quickly qualify either for welfare or a return to employment within two days. This will encourage the uptake of all possible prospects of work without any need to compromise their eligibility to quickly return to social support if the work stops. Hence, citizens can ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of the welfare system efficiently.
The Time Party will:
- Create of an extensive network of medical polyclinics throughout the UK to reduce the need for hospital admissions for routine procedures.
- Encourage all citizens to fulfil a fit and healthy lifestyle, via their GP practice, with particular emphasis on the reduction of poor nutrition, obesity and smoking.
- Require GPs to conduct ‘work-assessments’, via a practice nurse qualified with a ‘work-assessment’ certificate issued from an approved assessment programme.
- Enable GPs to conduct PIP assessments within 8 weeks.
- Increase medical and social support in the community for ‘home living’, rather than rely upon admission to a state-run care home later in life.
- Support the difficult decisions made by the institute ‘NICE’ in consideration of the efficacy of drugs and procedures which are likely to be of very limited value to patients, but would represent a punitive cost to the state.
- Require Hospitals, Polyclinics and GP surgeries to verify patient access for treatment, via the UK Citizen Identity Card.
The Time party will:
- Create a National Association for Social Housing (NASH), which will be under the authority of a Government Ministry, able to control land acquisition and directly fund the National Construction Agency for the prime purpose of social housing construction. The unit cost of all housing developments to be published nationally.
- Increase social housing stock to alleviate the cost of the private-sector housing bill, which will bring down the overall cost of housing support per family.
- Ration social housing by need, with a sympathetic approach to encourage downsizing after a change in family circumstances.
- Ensure social housing tenants are subject to a new ‘Rights & Responsibilities’ Act, whereby tenants have security of tenure only if minimum environmental standards are maintained, the standards are to be set and enforced by local Government.
- Only permit the sale of social housing under the control of NASH, whereby every house sold must be replaced by a new build in the same local area to ensure the national housing stock-level is maintained.
The Time party will:
- Amend the ‘Modern Slavery Act 2015’ to ensure that any person from overseas who is engaged in work, or services, must be registered with their Nation’s embassy to whom they will provide their name, passport and UK address. The embassy will provide an emergency contact number to enable the person to report back any personal abuse to the embassy (using their mother tongue if their english is poor). The embassy to be encouraged to contact UK authorities in such circumstances to enable the UK authorities to investigate and take protective action.
- Provide protection to victims of slavery by accommodation in a safe-house with a review of their status.
- Prosecute perpetrators of slavery for imprisonment and/or deportation/repatriation.