Our welfare reforms are changing lives. The Conservatives have introduced the biggest welfare to work programme the UK has ever seen to get people back to work. But we also believe it must always pay to work – which is why we have capped benefits so that no one can get more on benefits than the average person earns in work. We want to help people escape poverty, not trap them in it.

Past governments have talked about reform, while watching the benefits bill sky rocket as generations languish on the dole and dependency. This government is delivering the reform our country needs.

The bigger picture

Iain Duncan Smith• Nearly 1.2 million new jobs in the private sector have been created since the election. There are now more than 700,000 more people in work than when the Conservatives came to power.

• We are introducing the 'Benefits Cap' so that those out of work cannot get more in benefits than the average person earns in work.

• We are rolling the main work-related benefits and tax credits into one, simple payment - the 'Universal Credit' - which will ensure that going into work always pays more than remaining on benefits.

• We have set up the biggest welfare to work programme the UK has ever seen – replacing the existing patchwork of job initiatives with a single programme that helps people back into work and gives them the support they need.

Reforming Welfare

We are reforming welfare so that it always pays to work.

Action to date

We have passed our welfare reforms into law. Under the last Government, people found themselves trapped on benefits because the incentives to work were poor and the system was too complicated to navigate. Our reforms will make sure that it always pays to work, while supporting the most vulnerable. Our reforms include:

  • A benefit cap of £26,000 a year
  • The Universal Credit, which will roll 6 benefits and tax credits into one simple payment
  • The toughest sanctions regime for benefit claimants ever seen, including sanctions of up to 3 years for JSA claimants who repeatedly fail to meet their most important requirements
  • Tackling benefit fraud
  • Reforming Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment, including a more objective assessment process so that disabled people get the support that they need.

Planned actions

• The legislation for our welfare reforms has now been passed into law; these changes will now be implemented in stages.

Universal Credit

We are rolling a complex system of benefits and tax credits into one simple payment – the Universal Credit.

Action to date

• The legislation for the Universal Credit has been passed into law. Universal Credit is the most radical redesign of the benefits system this country has ever seen. It will replace the current costly, outdated process with an online system that will be simpler to use and will make work pay. It is on track and on budget.

• Universal Credit will combine Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Support and Employment Support Allowance into one payment to make it easier for people to see they will be consistently and transparently better off for each hour they work and every pound they earn.

Planned actions

• A staged roll-out of Universal Credit will start in October 2013. There will be a pilot in Greater Manchester and Cheshire from April 2013, six months before it is rolled out nationally.

Capping Benefits

We are capping benefits so that you can't get more on benefits than the average person earns in work.

Action to date

• Despite opposition from Labour, we have made it law that no one claiming out of work benefits will be able to receive more in benefits than the average person earns in work – with a cap at £26,000.

• Under the last government we ended up in the crazy situation of benefit claimants being able to claim staggering amounts in benefit handouts.

Planned actions

• The Government will introduce the benefit cap from 2013. The cap will apply to the main out-of-work benefits and will ensure real fairness in the benefits system.

Getting people back to work

We have introduced the largest welfare to work scheme ever.

Action to date

There are now 700,000 more people in work than at the last election, but we cannot be complacent. Unemployment is still far too high. We have set up the biggest welfare to work scheme, which supports people into work and gives them the help they need.

  • The Work Programme replaces the old patchwork of ineffective and costly support for jobseekers with a single programme.
  • The Work Programme is designed to support a wide variety of jobseekers back into sustained employment, and help people overcome their own individual barriers to work.
  • Providers are paid by results – so they are rewarded for keeping people in work and rewarded for helping harder-to-help customers.

The Work Programme is already helping 693,000 people.

Planned actions

• Around 3.3 million people are expected to be supported by the Work Programme over the lifetime of the contract. More than 400 voluntary sector groups including Mencap, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, The Prince's Trust and Action for Blind People are all involved in delivering the Work Programme.

• We know there are still challenges ahead. We are working hard to create the conditions businesses need to grow and create jobs, and we are providing people with the support they need to get back into work.

Getting young people into work

Getting young people into work with the £1 billion youth contract.

Action to date

• We have set up the Youth Contract, a £1 billion package to help tackle youth unemployment. Key measures include:

  • Wage incentives for businesses who take on 18-24 year olds.
  • An extra 250,000 work experience places over the next three years.
  • Incentives for small businesses to take on apprentices.

• There is also a new '16-24 Alliance' to tackle youth unemployment. A group of Britain’s biggest companies, spearheaded by Morrison's, are signing up to the Youth Contract to get 50,000 unskilled young people into work over the next three years.

• Other measures include a focus on making sure young people have the skills they need to get into work. We have set up sector-based work academies, University Technical Colleges, and have dramatically increased the number of apprenticeships available to give young people the skills they need to get on and get ahead in the workplace.

Reforming disability benefits

We are reforming disability benefits so people are no longer written-off for life.

Action to date

• We are reforming Incapacity Benefit and replacing it with the Employment Support Allowance. We're committed to the reassessment of people on incapacity benefit and helping those who are fit to move back into work. Under the old system too many lives were written off when people could find work if only they had the right support. This government is ensuring that that support is available.

• We are also reforming the Disability Living Allowance. Disabled people can face some of the toughest barriers to living an independent life. Conservatives in Government are committed to continue spending over £40 billion a year on support services for disabled people. But at the moment, we can’t be certain that support is always going to those who need it most, which is why we are moving forward with the next stage of our reforms to Disability Living Allowance.

Planned actions

• By 2014 we will have reassessed 1.5 million people who currently receive Incapacity Benefit, through the Work Capability Assessment. To ensure that the assessment is as fair and accurate as possible, there are on-going reviews and improvements. As part of this, Professor Malcolm Harrington, a highly respected Occupational Physician, has carried out two independent reviews of the assessment and is currently undertaking a third independent review to make more recommendations as appropriate.

• We are replacing the Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16-64 with the Personal Independence Payment. The PIP will be a non-means-tested, non-taxable cash benefit that people can spend as they choose. It will be a benefit that is paid to people whether they are in or out of work. As part of the reforms, we are introducing a more transparent and objective assessment and a system for regularly checking that the right support is getting to those who need it. The priority is to support those facing the greatest barriers to living an independent life.

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