This report argues that that in the future employment support must better understand the pressures that families, social networks and communities put on unemployed people. Devolving power and money to cities would allow individual Jobcentres to pilot new innovative ways of delivering local personalised support to help people find a job. Support could also be targeted at whole families, peer groups or estates in order to tackle serious barriers to work like a poor work ethic or family problems.
Devolving welfare powers to cities using the 28 existing City Deals would transfer total expected benefit spending for a whole group of individuals over a given period of time and allow cities to keep any benefit savings leveraged from helping people into work in this period.
The report uses evidence from 33 in-depth interviews, six focus groups and 322 survey responses in jobcentres in Hounslow, Leicester and Stockport to assess the depth of problems that individuals, families and communities face in finding employment. The results showed that some people found family members or friends kept them positive or pressured them when they were looking for work. However, for others, their social networks actually acted as a barrier to employment as they lacked helpful contacts and motivation and could even encourage them into crime. This was worst for the long-term unemployed.