Families, Work and Benefits

summary:

Families, Work and Benefits is a unique study of Britain's low-income families, which looks at the use of income tested social security benefits to support families both out of work and in lower paid jobs.

The first part of the book introduces the main arguments surrounding work, benefits and family credit (FC). It compares low-income families with other families, and describes their circumstances and their use of benefits. The authors then go on to examine the special problems of take-up of 'means tested' or income-related benefits, and summarise the social and economic geography of low income families by introducing the four main 'actors' featured in the second part of the book: families receiving credit; families who appear to qualify for family credit but do not claim it; families having no-one in full-time work; and families who earn a little more than the amount that would qualify them for FC.

Part Two examines the effects of FC on families' incentives to work in three ways: the constraints and opportunities facing low-income parents in work, and limits they place on the incentives that benefits may provide; how current users and potential customers see FC and how it might affect their opportunities for work; and the actual incentives created and how people apparently respond to them. It then goes on to look at the difference made by FC, and the effects of claiming (and of not claiming) FC on families' relative material well-being. A final chapter summarises the whole report and discusses some of the social and policy implications of the findings.