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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 2007): Social security - UK - New Deal

The 'crusade for full employment'

P. Convery

Working Brief, issue 186, 2007, p. 6-9

This article examines the government's green paper on welfare reform published in July 2007 under the title In work, better off. This sets out the government's aim to eradicate child poverty and reach the 80% employment goal by creating a new, integrated employment and skills system. The green paper proposes a more flexible and personalised service for job seekers and a stronger focus on job retention and progression. It commits the government to work with major employers in a 'Jobs Pledge' that promises to offer a quarter of a million jobs to disadvantaged people. The government will require many lone parents to switch from Income Support to Jobseekers Allowance, thereby requiring them to seek work. Many more employability services will be provided through private and third sector organisations.

'Disappearing' discrimination? The New Deal, ethnicity and the limits of policy evaluation

R. Fergusson

Youth and Policy, no. 96, 2007, p. 65-85

The Blair government's flagship New Deal for Young People has been extensively evaluated, but subject to little academic research or critical assessment. These evaluations have failed to pick up ways in which the New Deal programme is perpetuating inequalities between minority ethnic groups. A review of official data suggests reduced levels of participation by these groups, increased exclusion, and persistent underperformance, especially amongst young black people. The paper concludes by proposing key features of a research agenda that could help the programme achieve greater inter-ethnic equality.

The government's employment strategy

Work and Pensions Committee

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers, session 2006/07; HC63)

The Department for Work and Pensions has an aspiration of achieving an 80% employment rate, which it describes as a 'modern vision of full employment'. This report critically reviews the Department's strategy for achieving this aim. It identifies key challenges faced by the current strategy, including:

  • Finding more effective ways of engaging those with multiple barriers to employment with programmes such as the New Deals
  • Finding ways of allowing the New Deals to respond effectively to individual needs
  • Offering more flexibility at the local level to allow the development of a strategy appropriate to the local labour market
  • More effective engagement with employers, particularly in the design of training programmes aimed at moving disadvantaged people into sustainable employment
  • Developing a more effective strategy to assist people to remain in work and progress

Welfare reform: the Conservative approach

D. Ruffley

Working Brief, issue 186, 2007, p. 10-12

The author argues for a continuing role for JobCentre Plus in assessing eligibility and making benefit payments. It should also deliver employment services to people with good prospects of finding work in the early stages of their claim. However those requiring specialist help should be referred to private and voluntary sector employment services providers, which should be offered financial rewards for getting people with multiple disadvantages into work and keeping them there for a year. These payments for success could be funded out of benefits savings.

Work in progress

M. Conrad

Public Finance, Aug. 17th-30th 2007, p. 20-23

Government remains committed to the idea that entry into the labour market is the best way for people to escape from poverty. This article comments on the governments latest plans for welfare to work, set out in the 2007 green paper In work, better off. This proposes that:

  1. benefits sanctions should be used to force lone parents to seek work when their youngest child reaches the age of 12 from 2008 and seven from 2010
  2. employment services for people facing multiple barriers to work should be contracted out to private providers who will offer tailored support to individuals
  3. elements of compulsion should be introduced, including mandatory training and work trials
  4. the disparate 'New Deals' programmes should be merged into a unified and personalised 'Flexible New Deal'.
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