The Covid-19 crisis has thrown the debate on poverty, living standards and social security into sharp relief. Millions of people have lost their jobs or seen their incomes plummet and are turning to social security for support, often for the first time. The chancellor has temporarily increased the generosity of universal credit, a hugely welcome move but also a recognition that benefits are too low. And the Covid-19 crisis is shifting public attitudes to benefits, with further movement likely if the recession leads to mass unemployment.
This project, supported by the Standard Life Foundation, aims to consider whether in light of the Covid-19 emergency a new consensus on social security can emerge, both broadly within society and across the political spectrum. The focus of the project is social security for working-age adults and children across Great Britain.
The project seeks to answer two questions:
- Can consensus be built for more generous social security over the medium term?
- Can consensus be built for a system that includes stronger contribution-based and universal entitlements in addition to means-testing?
In order to answer these questions the project is consulting with experts and policy makers; developing and analysing examples of possible reforms; convening an online citizens’ jury to co-design policy options; and testing emerging conclusions with polling.