A range of welfare benefits could be brought together as a single payment distributed at different local rates across the UK, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has announced.
The Department for Work and Pensions set out proposals for a “radical overhaul” of benefits in an attempt to encourage people into work and create a more localised system.
Around 50 separate benefits could be brought together as a single payment that would taper off as claimants move into employment.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “A system developed to help the most vulnerable and support people in times of need is trapping people in a cycle of dependency. We now have children growing up in households where neither parent works and where the only future is one stuck on benefits.
“This is a tragedy that we must bring to an end.”
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Duncan Smith said he wanted to see a more “humanised” approach where payments reflected local circumstances.
He added: “We as a government say we want to see more discharged at a local level to get completely away from this top-down centralised approach.”
Mr Duncan criticised current benefit payments that taper off at different rates as a “complex maths equation that very few people can work out”.
He claimed the new system would also be more accurate than tax credits as benefits would be paid in “real time”. He said the Treasury had paid up to £11bn in overpayments under the old system.