The UK-wide Welfare Reform Act 2012 brought major changes to the post-war welfare system in the UK as part of a wider austerity programme, alongside cuts to public services. The changes are as follows:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) replaced with point-based Personal Independence Payments (PIP);
- Incapacity Benefit (and related benefits) replaced with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);
- Council Tax benefits and parts of the DWP Social Fund (community care grants and crisis loans) withdrawn from April 2013, replaced by the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF), delivered by councils in Scotland (see below);
- Universal Credit (UC) introduced, replacing a range of in- and out-of-work benefits incorporating housing costs, and changes to working tax credits;
- New household caps and ‘under-occupancy’ penalties (the so-called ‘bedroom tax’) created;
- Move to digital applications and monthly payments.
In Scotland, the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Act 2012 intended to shift some of the burden of the changes to social security and protect vulnerable individuals in Scotland. The Scottish referendum in 2014 was followed by increased powers for Scotland. This has led to the passing of the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015, which places a duty on local authorities to provide a safety net for vulnerable people in an emergency situation, following abolition of the discretionary Social Fund by the DWP.
Source: White, Gregory (2016) The impact of welfare reform on the social services workforce, IRISS insight 32, Glasgow: IRISS
Available at: https://www.iriss.org.uk/resources/insights/impact-welfare-reform-social-services-workforce