Letters: Labour's welfare to work strategy

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your suggestion in your editorial ("Labour tinkers at the margins of welfare", 25 June) that the Commission on Social Justice (of which I was a member) "framed an entire agenda of policy proposals around the theme" of welfare to work is not quite accurate. Welfare to work was one of the central planks of the Commission's social security strategy; the other was a modernised, strengthened social insurance scheme.

It is the absence of this second plank in the Labour Party's strategy which makes its policy paper so disappointing. This is the wider significance of the Party's refusal to commit itself to abolition of the Jobseeker's Allowance, despite its own recognition that it "has fundamentally undermined the insurance principle".

If successful, the Labour Party's welfare to work strategy could mean a real reduction in the numbers living in poverty. But the work has to be there and, as you note, at a decent wage. Moreover, the strategy will take time. Welfare to work therefore has to be complemented by other reforms which will address the inadequacies of the social security system for those of working age who remain on benefit.

RUTH LISTER

Professor of Social Policy

Department of Social Sciences

Loughborough University

Loughborough, Leicestershire

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