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The Guardian (p9) carries a feature on the two-page pamphlet that accompanies the 'focus files' on the welfare syst...
The Guardian (p9) carries a feature on the two-page pamphlet that accompanies the 'focus files' on the welfare system. The pamphlet centres on three principles from the Beveridge Report:

- society has a responsibility to help people in genuine need, who are unable to look after themselves

- individuals have a responsibility to help to provide for themselves when they can do so

- work is the best route out of poverty for people who are able to work

Professor of social policy at Loughborough university Ruth Lister is quoted as saying that the focus files are resonant of what the Conservative government had said in a corresponding report in 1993. 'The sense is very much of preparing people for more means-testing, more private provision.'

The Guardian also features a breakdown of Labour's proposals. On the question of housing, it is pointed out that the combined effect of increases in rents charged by councils and housing associations, and abolition of rent controls for the private sector has increased those seeking housing subsidies. Policy director of the Institute of Housing John Perry is quoted:

'One factor not mentioned in the focus file was that the real value of social security allowances other than housing benefit had fallen since 1979, limiting people's ability to draw on those to help with housing costs. The problem about this debate tends to be a narrow concentration on housing benefit costs having grown exponentially, with no regard to the bigger picture. It's the bigger picture we need to get in focus.'

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph (p1) records the opinion of minister for welfare reform frank Field. He claims to be seeking evolutionary reform rather than the 'big bang approach'. Field's acknowledgement that there was no 'simple panacea' to welfare dependency is seen by the Telegraph as confirmation that the treasury has forced him to scale down some of his ideas.

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