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St Helena 1, UK nil: writer marks the score on welfare reforms

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St Helena’s welfare reform programme has been used as a tool to chide the UK government on its own drive to reduce social benefits, in a column in the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

Hugh Muir notes that executive councillors have “taken the best advice” and “agreed to introduce a new system based on minimum income standards, linking benefit rates to the cost of a basket of goods judged necessary for an adequate standard of living.”

The Westminster government, on the other hand, has been accused of throwing some households into poverty with changes to housing benefits.

And it is taking a tough line on employment benefits too, saying there are “insufficient incentives to encourage people on benefits to start paid work or increase their hours”.

The Guardian makes no mention of the long-standing discontent over unequal treatment of people on different kinds of benefits on St Helena.

The island’s government appears gratified by the Guardian’s implied approval for its reforms. It has drawn attention to it in a press release, with the comment: “Diary columns traditionally take a quirky look at the news.”

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