Harlesden, Northwest London PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images

When Welfare Sabotages Lives

The United Kingdom’s new welfare program, intended to encourage recipients to seek employment, has had a rocky start. As leaders work to improve the "universal credit" approach, they should consider how scarcity and fear play into the decision-making of those on the receiving end of government support.

OXFORD – As Christmas approaches, the United Kingdom is accelerating the rollout of a social security scheme only Ebenezer Scrooge could love. The “universal credit” program replaces six different welfare benefits – such as the child tax credit and the housing benefit – with one. The goal is to incentivize employment, and to create an online system that is easier to use.