Public Accounts Committee
London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08; HC301)
Reports that there are three million homes in which no-one works, nearly one in six of all households. They cost £12.7bn per year in state benefits. Six out of ten workless families are concentrated in just 40 deprived areas. In many households where no-one works benefits are a way of life and the impact of a decade of activation policies under New Labour has been limited. The burden of worklessness is being borne by the country at a time when an expanding economy has produced record levels of employment.
National Audit Office
London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers session 2007-2008; HC 32)
This report finds that government-led initiatives to help unemployed people find work are having a real impact. Programmes such as the New Deal have helped reduce the number of people on benefit, and the average length of claims. However, too many people still do not stay in work once they have found it and more now needs to be done to address the problems faced by jobseekers who cycle between work and benefit. The report concludes that the greatest boost to sustainable employment is likely to come from efforts to increase the cohesiveness of national policies and local action relating to the responsibilities of the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills. Joint working will need to ensure that training delivered is economically valuable to individuals and employers.
Labour Research, vol.97, Jan. 2008, p. 20-21
The government says that paid work is the best route out of poverty and wants to get more people off benefits and into employment. However, the TUC points to the persistence of widespread poverty among households where wage earners are in low paid jobs.
Social Policy and Administration, vol. 42, 2008, p. 19-42
Ever since their rise to prominence in the 1970s, 'active' responses to unemployment have suffered from policymakers' unrealistic expectations about their potential abilities to exercise direct influence on unemployment levels. Yet the success or failure of active labour market policies (ALMPs) is essentially determined more by macroeconomic policies than by the inherent design features of the measures themselves. Furthermore, the fundamental properties of active policy instruments remain similar over time, although the credit-claiming discourse may change. Policymaking cycles between efforts to upskill workers through education and training, and efforts to force the unemployed to take substandard jobs in the hope that their prospects might improve over time once they are in work. In addition, public authorities from time to time impose or threaten sanctions on those unwilling to work in the shape of loss of benefits. These points are illustrated through a case study of the New Deal Employment Programme introduced by the New Labour government in 1997.