Business / International

Policy Exchange calls for “radical reform” of UK jobcentres

A new report by leading think-tank Policy Exchange says that many people using jobcentres find themselves in and out of employment largely due to having barriers to work which are not fully dealt with. According to the report, Joined-up Welfare, there are 11.5 million people in Britain with a long-term health condition while up to 18 percent of the working age population has a mental health problem.

An estimated 10,000 16-18-year-olds leave care each year. The government’s welfare reforms have improved matters, but there is still too much duplication and inefficiency in the system.

Guy Miscampbell, author of the report, says services have improved “enormously, but there is still a lot more to do.”

“What is needed is a radical overhaul of the system which puts the needs of the jobseeker first. The very word – jobcentre – comes with a stigma,” Miscampbell said. “Instead of attaching labels to people who are not in work we should reform the system to make it as easy as possible for individuals, who often have multiple problems, to work with an organisation that is best suited to helping them into work.”

English: Kensal Road JobCentre Plus office New...

English: Kensal Road JobCentre Plus office New offices. For JobCentre Plus organisation, part of the government Department for Work and Pensions, see http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/JCP/Aboutus/index.html. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While jobseekers might suffer from a range of issues, the current welfare system fails to deal with overlapping problems from the beginning of the process, argues the report. People are sometimes referred to a range of different services that operate independently of each other.

A spokesman for Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) told VoR: “Any failings in our social security system are entirely down to privatisation, the work programme being the most obvious example, or a lack of staff and resources as a result of successive years of spending cuts.”

Chris Goulden, head of poverty research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), said in response to the report, “Jobseekers often have a diverse, and complex, range of needs and circumstances. It’s important for employment support to be attuned to these needs to give people their best chance of getting into sustainable, well-paid jobs that help them and their families out of poverty.”

The report says that the system is in “urgent” need of reform and proposes that the next “logical direction” of reform is a new structure centred around the specific needs of the individual.

That new structure includes: a complete overhaul of jobcentres, Jobcentre Plus should be expanded and rebranded as Citizen Support and the budget should be allocated directly from central government to different providers.

The Department for Work and Pensions, which is responsible for Jobcentre Plus, told VoR, “Every day up and down the country our Jobcentre advisers are working closely with local authorities and other organisations to help people off benefits and into work. We now have an employment rate which has never been higher and record numbers of people in work.

“The Work Programme – which is run by private providers who are paid by results – is helping more people than any previous employment programme and has already helped 300,000 into lasting work, and through Universal Credit we are redefining the contract between benefit claimants and the welfare state and helping to make work pay.”


Originally published on Voice of Russia UK. 

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