Westminster Social Policy Forum

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The future of social security - the impact of COVID-19, priorities for tackling unemployment, and taking forward the Kickstart Scheme

Morning, Tuesday, 1st February 2022

This conference will assess the impact of the pandemic on the social security system, adaptations the system needs to make against the backdrop of the continued rollout of Universal Credit, the possible effects of the change to the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%, and priorities for reducing unemployment and taking forward the Government’s Kickstart Scheme.

Overall, the agenda will bring out latest thinking on:

  • the impact of the pandemic on social security in England and priorities for adapting the system for the future
  • how local and innovative approaches to supporting vulnerable groups have evolved
  • what can be learnt from plans to trial Universal Basic Income in Wales
  • how effective Government schemes are in supporting young people and adults back into work in the wake of the pandemic
  • what more needs to be done to address inequality in the provision of training and education opportunities, enhance skills development, and engage businesses and communities in addressing barriers to employment

Including a keynote contribution from Dr Stephen Brien, Chair, Social Security Advisory Committee, delegates will also consider the publication of Jobs and benefits: The COVID-19 challenge, a joint report by the IfG and SSAC. Discussion will touch on priorities and next steps for the future of the social security system in the context of the report’s findings, as well as other relevant developments such as the Government’s Plan for Jobs.  

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DHSC and the DWP - as well as parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Lords.

Keynote Speakers

Jonathan Rhys Williams

Co-founder, UBI Lab Cymru

Dr Stephen Brien

Chair, Social Security Advisory Committee


Debbie Abrahams MP

Member, Work and Pensions Committee

Nigel Mills MP

Member, Work and Pensions Committee


Angela Harrington

Director of Inclusive Economy, Manchester City Council

Jessica Tucker

Head of Personal Development and Learner Progress, South Devon College

Katy Joy

Head of Teacher Training and Community Learning, South Devon College

Gavin Rice

Head of Work and Welfare Policy Unit, The Centre for Social Justice

Robert Joyce

Deputy Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies

Councillor Mufeedah Bustin

Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Public Realm, Tower Hamlets Council

Rachel Jones

Director of Talent, Learning, Engagement, Wellbeing and Organisational Design, Sodexo

Matthew Oakley

Director, WPI Economics

Alison Garnham

Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group