Westminster Social Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

The future for social security in England - Universal Credit, supporting vulnerable groups and the impact of COVID-19

TO BE PUBLISHED October 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will consider the future for social security and welfare reform in England.

Areas for discussion include:

  • the rolling out of Universal Credit
  • the impact of COVID-19 on the social security system

We are pleased to be able include keynote sessions with: Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee; Catherine Houlcroft, Principal Project Officer, No Recourse to Public Funds Network, Islington Council; Joshua Reddaway, Director, DWP Value for Money, National Audit Office; Joanne Roney, Chief Executive, Manchester City Council; Dr Kate Summers, Fellow, Qualitative Methodology, LSE; and Alex Tiffin, Freelance Author and Claimant, Universal Credit; as well as contributions from Bright Blue; the Joseph Rowntree Foundation; Leigh Day; and Peabody. The chairs are the Vice Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Universal Credit, Peter Aldous MP and Anne McLaughlin MP.

The agenda:

  • Key and emerging issues for social security in England
  • Case study: the experience of claiming Universal Credit as a disabled person - what works and what doesn’t
  • Assessing the response to COVID-19 and what it means for the future of the social security system:
    • The impact of COVID-19 on the UK economy and the demand for social security
    • Delivering a wider social security system that works for the self-employed, carers, the long-term sick and people with disabilities
    • Supporting those with no recourse to public funds during the pandemic
    • Devolution and social security, and the impact of different approaches to reducing hardship
  • Ensuring value for money from Universal Credit
  • Rolling out universal credit - lessons from pilot programmes, implementation issues, migration from the legacy benefits,  and supporting councils and recipients
  • Adapting the social security system to meet future challenges

The context for discussion:

Delegates will consider the issues against the backdrop of a range of developments and issues affecting social security, including:

The discussion in detail:

The impact of COVID-19

  • the experience of the pandemic -  implications for the future of the welfare system and looking ahead to its impact on the UK economy
  • the increase in claimants as a result of the pandemic - how the social security system is responding, particularly with regard to Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay
  • how effective the system has been in supporting:
    • people to quarantine during the pandemic
    • the self-employed, carers, parents, the long-term sick and people with disabilities
  • what issues or gaps have emerged, how they are being addressed, and what can be learned for the future
  • the position of those with no recourse to public funds during the pandemic
  • how the system has worked alongside wider support packages announced during the pandemic such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme,  the Plan for Jobs scheme, and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme - and the impact of changes in these packages on the benefit system
  • options for reform, including ways in which systems should support the self-employed

Devolved council powers

Decisions on levels and scope of Council Tax reduction schemes (Local Council Tax Support) and the design of local hardship programmes following the abolition of the national Social Fund:

  • how local authorities have responded
  • the impact of the different approaches

Rolling out Universal Credit

With the planned date for full implementation of Universal Credit delayed further to 2024:

  • what lessons can be learnt from implementation and experience of councils and recipients to inform the next stage of rollout
  • with ‘natural migration’ slowing, what further steps are needed to deliver full implementation on time and how is the migration from legacy benefits being managed
  • the impact on stakeholders such as housing associations and on those who are in receipt of benefit of Universal Credit and moves to direct payments
  • what more needs to be done to ensure the system delivers value for money and to reduce fraud in advances as outlined by the NAO
  • challenges for implementing a system that works for and supports both those in receipt of benefit and those who are charged with its distribution

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This conference is no different. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library and the House of Commons, and officials from the DWP; MHCLG;DHSC; and HM Revenue & Customs.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Social Policy Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates