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

Reconfiguring work and welfare in the UK's 'New Economy': regulatory geographies of welfare-to-work at the local level

J. MacLeavy

Gender, Place and Culture, vol. 18, 2011, p. 611-633

This article explores the impact of the welfare-to work programmes introduced by the New Labour government on working class women through a case study of the frameworks through which the New Deals were delivered in Bristol. Under this regime welfare recipients who failed to improve their situation through help with job search and training programmes were constructed as recalcitrant individuals who were to blame for their economic position. Opportunities for full-time child rearing were supplanted by insecure, low-wage work for women outside the home.

The role of incapacity benefit reassessment in helping claimants into employment

Work and Pensions Committee

London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/12; HC 1015)

The Government's objective for the incapacity benefit (IB) reassessment is to help people with disabilities and long-term health conditions to move back into employment, while continuing to provide adequate support for people who have limited capability for work or are unable to work. However, the report finds that the Government's positive messages about the IB reassessment are not getting through to the public. The report argues that the Government should be more proactive in explaining its aims for the process and in emphasising the range of support which will be available. Current incapacity benefit claimants are being reassessed to decide whether they are able to work. The inquiry looked in detail at the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the test which is used to assess whether an incapacity benefit claimant is capable of work, or work-related activity. It is widely accepted that the WCA was flawed in the form in which it was introduced in 2008 for new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants, leading to a high proportion of inaccurate assessments and poor decisions by Jobcentre Plus. Many of these decisions were overturned at appeal. The report acknowledges that many welcome improvements have been made to the reassessment process as a result of the review by Professor Malcolm Harrington and the trial of the revamped process carried out in Aberdeen and Burnley, before it was introduced nationally.

Universal Credit: will its aims be achieved?

G. Guy

Working Brief, Summer 2011, p. 34-35

The Universal Credit will help claimants through a radical simplification of the benefits system. It will allow assessment to be made according to household need, with elements for children, disability and housing costs, and will permit claimants to earn up to a threshold of income before the benefit begins to be withdrawn at a steady rate as they earn more. However there are a number of unanswered questions about how the benefit will work in practice, specifically in respect of childcare costs, housing costs, self-employment and savings.

Will the Work Programme succeed?

J. Portes

Working Brief, Summer 2011, p. 14-15

The Coalition Government's Work Programme aims to get a significant number of long term unemployed people into jobs. However the author demonstrates that it is unlikely to get enough chronically unemployed British people into work to make a significant impact. It is therefore unlikely to stem the tide of immigration. Employment service providers will face the Herculean task of improving the skills and motivation of very disadvantaged people to make them employable. Success will therefore be gradual, on a person by person level.

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