Frank Field, Ian Duncan Smith, etc The list of intelligent reformers whose failed efforts to break the poverty cycle, is getting longer. Inevitably they fail because the Treasury want immediate cost savings, not improved outcomes, and their political leadership is more influenced by short-term voter reaction than genuine assistance.
However, there is a looming problem which will be created by a perfect storm of ever increasing automation and globalisation.
All welfare reform focuses on incentivising people to work and become self-sufficient. What happens when society doesn't need a large section of the population to work because the jobs are being done by machines.
I know that this threat is not new but it is accelerating. Think what driver-less trucks will do to the million plus truck drivers in the USA. Welfare to work is not the answer. A resetting of what it means to be productive combined with a universal minimum income will be where we end up but a long and painful road lies ahead. Yet another issue nation states will not be able to fix on their own (because it requires co-operation on taxation).