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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2011): Social security - UK - welfare to work

The Big Society's lost generation: time for a real deal not a new deal

R. Williams

Working Brief, Nov. 2010, p. 7-8

The author argues that the current high levels of youth unemployment are due to structural changes in the labour market combined with the effects of the recession. New Labour sought to tackle youth unemployment by encouraging young people to obtain paper vocational and academic qualifications which are in reality worthless. The employment prospects of young people could be more effectively improved by investment in providing them with work experience through schemes such as the now cancelled Future Jobs Fund.

Employment belief: applying behavioural economics to welfare to work

A. Tarr and T. Riley

Inclusion, 2010

Behavioural economics recognises that people do not always make decisions rationally and that a multitude of other factors can affect their choices and influence their actions. This report identifies a set of principles drawn from the lessons of behavioural economics which can be applied by policymakers to influence behaviour and improve people's chances of moving off benefits and into work. Building on these principles, the authors make a number of recommendations for how behavioural economics can be embedded into welfare to work policy and delivery. Recommendations include: introduction of a reward card which would allow claimants to build up points exchangeable for cash payments; professionalization of personal advisers; simplification of the sanctions regime; establishment of a body of 'community employment champions' to act as mentors to those joining the Work Programme; creation of individual welfare accounts; and ensuring commonalities between personal advisers and claimants they work with.

Flexible New Deal: success or failure?

P. Bivand

Working Brief, Dec./Jan 2011, p. 3-5

The Department for Work and Pensions has published figures on Flexible New Deal (FND) starts, short jobs and long jobs up to April 2010. The present coalition government has denounced the FND as costing enormous amounts of money and delivering very little. This article examines the overall performance of the FND, using the newly published information and other sources. It places the performance of the FND in the context of the launch of other programmes, of the state of the economy, and of job outcomes of Jobcentre Plus and all programmes. It looks briefly at financing issues and at whether a Work Programme would have been financially possible when the FND was contracted.

Following families: working lone-mother families and their children

T. Ridge and J. Millar

Social Policy and Administration, vol.45, 2011, p. 85-97

The evidence on income dynamics suggests that there is limited mobility across the income distribution for most families - overall, most poor people do not become rich and most rich people do not become poor. Lone parents are at particular risk of remaining poor over time. The risk of income poverty is reduced for lone parents who are in employment and receive in work state benefits to supplement their wages. This article reports on longitudinal qualitative research which involved repeat interviews with lone mothers and their children over a period of three to four years. The analysis explores their experiences of sustaining employment while living on a low, but complex, income and highlights the challenges of seeking financial security in this context.

Improving the assessment process for those with health conditions

S. Foster

Working Brief, Nov. 2010, p. 14-16

Under the current system, Employment and Support Allowance claimants must undergo a work capability assessment to determine whether they are able to work. This article reports on the debate at a seminar held in November 2010 which focused on how the assessment process could be improved. There was consensus that the work capability assessment is not working as well as it could in its current form and should be revised rather than replaced. There was also general agreement that an employability assessment is required alongside the present medical-based work capability assessment.

Jobless crisis will 'blight a generation'

A. Asthana

The Times, Feb. 15th 2011, p. 3

'Youth unemployment is highest since 1992'. David Cameron is being warned that failure to take 'immediate and urgent' action to tackle youth unemployment will blight a generation. New figures are expected to show youth employment close to one million, the highest since records began in 1992. Jonathan Portes, the new director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, condemned the decision to scrap the education maintenance allowance, used to encourage less well-off sixth formers to stay on at school.

Spending Review: what does it mean for the Work Programme?

D. Simmonds

Working Brief, Nov. 2010, p. 3-5

The government plans to reduce the benefits bill by a massive 18bn per year by 2014/15. Workless parents, unemployed young people, London claimants, and some Employment and Support Allowance claimants will bear the brunt of the cuts. This article also explores what the spending cutbacks will mean for the Work Programme in the context of the AME/DEL switch. The AME/DEL switch is when AME (annually managed expenditure on benefits) funds are transferred to pay for job outcomes secured by Work Programme contractors. This means that money saved on benefits payments when claimants move into work is transferred to fund the Work Programme. This arrangement will create a more positive financial environment for the Work Programme than many commentators had expected.

Supporting lone parents' journey off benefits and into work: a qualitative evaluation of the role of In Work Credit

L. Sims and others

Department for Work and Pensions, 2010 (Research report; 712)

This report evaluates the delivery of In Work Credit (IWC) since its national roll out, based on interviews with 126 lone parents in four case-study areas and three focus groups with Jobecentre Plus staff. The evaluation investigated the effect on retention after the end of IWC and examined differences between those who completed their claim and those who did not, while also exploring the wider impact of being in work on lone parents and their children. This evaluation shows the positive role a wage supplement can play in supporting lone parents into work. It also found that, for lone parents outside London, a wage supplement of 40.00 a week worked well and was sufficient.


The Work Programme and local government

P. Mind

Working Brief, Dec./Jan. 2011, p. 8-9

Local government, in partnership with local businesses, will have a key role in re-balancing the economy through new local enterprise partnerships. The government has also announced that it will be localising council tax benefit, which will not be included in the Universal Credit. In this context, councils are building a case that they, and not the Department for Work and Pensions nationally, should be responsible for commissioning employment services under the Work Programme.

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