This allows the Government the easy way out, which is to welcome the report and point to all the things that are already being done to tackle social exclusion. Fortunately, one member of Sir Donald's committee suggested at yesterday's press conference that benefits for families with children needed to rise by a quarter. That figure - which is not in the report - should force the Government to engage with the argument. It has already raised child benefit, but not by a quarter, and wants to pursue a parallel strategy of trying to get lone parents and the unemployed into work.
This is the right way to deal with benefit-dependency, but there are other groups for whom the labour market cannot be the ladder out of poverty: poor pensioners and the disabled. The Government has yet to define what "welfare reform" means for them, and how it will strike the balance between means-testing and universality - except that it did not like Frank Field's radically universal approach. If Sir Donald succeeds in prompting a specific response from the Government in respect of these groups, his 16 months' work will have been well worthwhile.Reuse content