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Gender implications of current social security reforms

Journal article | Fiscal Studies, Vol. 23, No. 4., December 2002

This paper examines some current reforms to social security benefits / tax credits and changes to employment provisions from a gender perspective. It analyses tensions between the trend towards Ñ©ndividualisation' and growing emphasis on the couple/household as a policy focus. New tax credits change the distribution of resources within many couples. Incentives to work for some second earners should improve; but extending in-work subsidies to childless couples raises questions. Payment of child tax credit to the Ñ­ain carer' has been welcomed, though the implications of joint ownership of tax credits are unclear, and joint assessment will be extended. Many claimants' partners can now access employment services. However, this is aimed at reducing the number of workless households rather than expanding individuals' opportunities. Joint claims for jobseeker's allowance, and work-focused interviews, involve increased responsibilities for partners but no right of access to individual income. A more consistent critical analysis of reform from a gender perspective is required.