Timing it right or timing it wrong: how should income-tested benefits deal with changes in circumstances?

Winner – 2019 Best Paper Prize of the Foundation for International Studies on Social Security (FISS) sponsored by the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice

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Jane Millar University of Bath, UK

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Peter Whiteford Australian National University, Australia

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This article examines the challenges in designing income-tested benefits for people of working age. This is particularly difficult in the context of changing patterns of work and volatility in earnings and income. Matching benefits to needs requires timely assessment and payment. We compare the treatment of timing issues in the working-age welfare systems of the United Kingdom and Australia. The article discusses how these different but similar systems deal with the timing of income receipt and benefit adjustment, problems of overpayment and debt, and draws out some lessons for the design of income-tested provisions.

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Jane Millar University of Bath, UK

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Peter Whiteford Australian National University, Australia

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