Our current system discourages work, taxes savings and does not encourage the declaration of earned income. Voters, by contrast, are on the other side of the argument. They support the values of the good society and see welfare as one means through which such values should be reinforced. Frank Field MP, seventy years after the publication of the Beveridge Report, will argue in a lecture that welfare reform therefore should focus on the contributory principle advocated by Sir William Beveridge, and that austerity, paradoxically, offers the best prospect ever for serious welfare reform. Received wisdom would suggest that it is only in the years of prosperity, when extra money is available to overcome any unexpected adverse effects, that it is possible to bring about fundamental welfare reform. Frank Field will argue this is not necessarily the case.
Frank Field formerly Director of the Child Poverty Action Group, has been the Labour Member of Parliament for Birkenhead since 1979. He has held a number of positions including chair of the Social Security Select Committee (1990–97), Minister for Welfare Reform (1997–98) and conducted an Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances for the Government in 2010
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