Select Committee on Work and Pensions Seventh Report

8  Conclusion

379. Throughout this inquiry we have heard evidence of substantial dysfunctional complexity in the UK benefits system. Reports by the National Audit Office, Public Accounts Committee and the Department, as well as the contributions we received, all alluded to this. Incremental change, alignments of rules and improving the service for claimants certainly have a role to play in addressing these problems but there is still a long way to go.

380. Our concern is that the current DWP approach addresses only the tip of the iceberg, looking at new policies but not necessarily the existing structure, examining parts of the system in isolation. Without a wholesale review of all benefits, and tax credits, their interactions and idiosyncrasies, meaningful simplification will never be achieved. We do not believe that the Benefit Simplification Unit can do this in its current form.

381. We recommended earlier in this report that a high-level group should be established in the short-term to make suggestions for simplification. We also believe that the Government should establish a Welfare Commission, similar in format and remit to the Pensions Commission, which can take a holistic view, model alternative systems, and come up with a considered blueprint for a way forward. A benefits system which DWP staff, claimants and welfare rights advisers have a hope of understanding is in everyone's best interests.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 26 July 2007