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Tracking Welfare Reform: The changing role of local authorities

  • By oliver.hannan

2013 was a critical year in the delivery of the government’s welfare reform agenda. Local authorities are showing that they are best placed to support people through the changes. Reductions will be made to the housing benefit of social sector tenants deemed to be under-occupying
their accommodation and an overall cap on benefits will be introduced. Council tax benefit will be abolished as a national benefit and replaced with local schemes. Most working-age benefits are due to rise below inflation.

London Councils is broadly supportive of reforms to the welfare system to make work pay and simplify the UK’s complicated system of benefits, but has been critical of elements of the government’s welfare reform agenda that fail to take into account London-specific factors like higher rents that risk the efficacy of the reforms and increase unfunded costs for London’s local authorities.

The role of local authorities in the delivery of the UK benefits system is changing. The administration of housing benefit will be wound down as Universal Credit comes into effect and councils have new responsibilities to administer council tax support and local welfare schemes that follow on from abolished elements of the national discretionary social fund.