Benefits System in Wales Needs Reform
The Engage to Change project has responded to a call for evidence by the UK Government’s Welsh Affairs Committee about the benefits system in Wales. Our key findings are:
- The benefits system is not devolved leading to problems for people who transition between services, for example young people with additional learning needs leaving education. We do not feel there is much joined-up communication which causes problems. One such problem was the Access to Work payments for supported internships where there was no regard for the difference in educational statementing.
- For many disabled people the benefits system is confusing and thus experience a constant state of anxiety
- Wales has areas of deprivation and pockets of people trapped in poverty due to the lack of decently paying jobs. The benefits system does not always offer appropriate support in areas where unemployment is high and where there are limited job opportunities. We have seen an increased number of participants having to utilise food banks, showing that the benefits system does not give people the support they need at the moment.
- The interruption of face to face support has further isolated some unemployed people with learning disabilities as their job coaches were an important part of their support system
- Only 5.6% of people with a learning disability in Wales are in paid employment but we know that many more people would like to work. In terms of the employment of disabled people, we have gained some important successes in supported employment. We need more supported employment and job coaching resources in Wales to assist people with these more complex disabilities to fulfil their potential to become employed, and to create a “level playing field” for them in the more competitive labour market, post-Covid.
- We do not at the current time have a position on the Universal Basic Income schemes in Wales. However, a non means-tested benefit payment for all to alleviate poverty would always be welcomed. This could be particularly beneficial for individuals transitioning from care or full-time further education and would act as a safety net.