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Welfare reform on the Web (April 2007): Social security - UK - New Deal

Cut and bruise

L. Tickle

Community Care, Mar. 1st-7th 2007, p. 26-27

Government is threatening to cut the benefits of single parents who refuse to look for work when their youngest child reaches the age of 12. Campaigners for the rights of lone parents are highly critical of the proposals, arguing that single mothers need affordable childcare and access to training to facilitate their return to the workplace.

Employment support agencies in the UK: current operations and future development needs

R. Wistow and J. Schneider

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 15, 2007, p. 128-135

The UK government aims to increase the number of disabled people in employment and to improve the social inclusion of this group. Employment support services aim to meet individual aspirations, to provide ongoing support once a disabled person is in work, to help people develop career paths, and to liaise with employers as required. Based on semi-structured telephone interviews with managers of 31 employment support agencies, this survey sought to understand the types of service provided, the staff and caseload numbers, the training offered, and the targets used.

Exploring the effects of integrated benefit systems and active labour market policies: evidence from Jobcentre Plus in the UK

E. Karagiannaki

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 36, 2007, p. 177-195

Jobcentre Plus was launched in April 2002, integrating the services of the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service. Providing a single gateway for the delivery of benefits and work placement activities, Jobcentre Plus aims to strengthen the link between welfare and work for a wide range of working age claimants, including the unemployed, lone parents, disabled people and carers. This article seeks to examine the performance of Job Centre Plus with respect to three different elements of service delivery: job entry outcomes, customer service and benefit delivery. The analysis suggests that Jobcentre Plus has had a clear positive effect on job entry outcomes for all client groups, a negative effect on benefits delivery, and neither a positive nor a negative effect on customer service.

Hutton's carrot and stick welfare reforms

C. Hope

The Daily Telegraph, Mar. 5th. 2007. p.8

This report announces that new government plans as part of its welfare-to-work strategy 'will include an element of compulsion to get the long term jobless and lone parents into work'. The proposals could see jobseekers offered material assistance in finding employment; including funds for suits. There are also proposals intended to get single parents back into work by compelling them to seek employment when their youngest child reaches the age of 11. Currently, the age is 16. The proposals, authored by former banker David Freud, also call for a greater role for private companies and charities in helping the most challenging jobless people find employment. John Hutton, Work and Pensions secretary, insists that this does not mean that benefits would be cut, as 'that's the last resort.' Rather, '[w]hat we should do is provide active help and support to get [the unemployed] back into the labour market.'

Jobcentre Plus: delivering effective services through Personal Advisers

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2006/07; HC 24)

Jobcentre Plus has 9,300 Personal Advisers who help people find work by diagnosing barriers to employment and assisting them to overcome them. They also have a responsibility to protect the integrity of the benefits system by ensuring those who should be doing so are actively seeking work. This report looks at Jobcentre Plus' use of Personal Advisers, the processes and systems that support their work and those elements that detract from advisers' efficiency and effectiveness. It recommends:

  • Reducing the burden of paperwork
  • Basic administrative tasks to be carried out by more junior staff
  • Reducing rates of customers failing to attend interviews
  • Improving the IT systems by emphasising ease of use, speed and flexibility.

Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work: an independent report to the Department for Work and Pensions

D. Freud

Leeds: Corporate Documents Services, 2007

This report makes a series of recommendations on how to move the most disadvantaged groups of unemployed people (lone parents, the disabled and the over-fifties) off welfare benefits and into work. It proposes transferring responsibility for helping the long term unemployed from Job Centre Plus to private contractors who would be rewarded financially for placing and keeping hard to help clients in jobs. Claimants would be expected to demonstrate more work related activity and would face sanctions for non-cooperation.

Welfare reform needs sticks and carrots

D. Lawson

The Independent, Mar.6th 2007, p.29

Lawson critiques John Hutton's proposed welfare reforms intended to encourage those on benefits, especially single parents, back into work. On the face of it, David Freud's proposal to allow private sector participation in the government's welfare-to-work programme seems innovative. Lawson also agrees that lone parents are a particularly intractable group when it comes to weaning them of state dependency. The proposals are impressive on first sight but Lawson argues that, compared to countries such as Sweden, Canada and United states, the reforms just aren't radical enough. On closer inspection, Lawson reveals that plans will take at least 10 years before benefits are realised - suggesting that a rather more conservative programme is in fact being proposed.

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