The UK’s social security system is in urgent need of overhaul and modernisation. It comprises multiple components for health, unemployment, child support, social care, pensions, disability and tax benefits that are poorly integrated, slow in operation, and depend on arcane and difficult to administer eligibility criteria. The introduction of Universal Credit was an attempt to better integrate parts of the system but the benefits have so far been limited. The continuing shortcomings of the system have been brought into sharper focus during the Covid pandemic as Government has sought to ramp up support for individuals and for preservation of economic activity. Modernising the system so that it is better integrated, simpler in operation, more responsive to peoples’ needs and better able to cope with future emergencies will be a major task to be accomplished over a number of years. Nevertheless, it is important that an early start made in putting in place the key building blocks for the future system.
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