Throughout its history Soundings journal has been at the forefront of rethinking welfare policy. In the last decade Britain has been subjected to levels of reform that have undermined the old welfare consensus established in the years following the second world war. The issue of conditionality has shifted from being a reciprocal agreement to becoming a punitive method of controlling and monitoring claimants. The collapse in the value of benefits contributes to the fear and anxiety of being made redundant or becoming sick or disabled. The old welfare safety net is in tatters. The Disability Living Allowance is one of the last remaining universal benefits paid to those who are working and those who are not working and based on the principle of need. We know that the Labour Movement will need to create a new welfare system for the future, one that is not run for profit by business, which keeps people out of poverty and which while requiring a fair reciprocity does not punish or impose workfare. This is a major undertaking but it will be built on benefits like the DLA and for this reason we need to defend it as a priority.

Jonathan Rutherford
editor Soundings