Call for tougher line on unemployed claimants

Politicians should be more honest about success rates in moving unemployed people off benefits and should adopt a tougher approach, according to a report from the Policy Exchange think-tank. It also warns the situation will get worse under the government's new universal credit system.

Key points

  • Official claims on behalf of Jobcentre Plus suggest 75 per cent of claimants are moved off jobseeker's allowance within six months. But in fact fewer than half enter paid employment of over 16 hours a week; and 30 per cent are back on benefits within eight months.
  • Although 1.4 million part-time workers say they want full-time employment, fewer than one-third are actively looking for another job with longer hours.
  • This situation is set to get worse, because the government's benefit reforms will mean those working very few hours will receive more in benefits.
  • Jobcentre performance should be measured on success in getting people to enter and stay in work – not just moving people off benefits.
  • The government should withdraw benefits from part-time workers who are not doing all they can to find a higher-paid or full-time job. These tougher rules should apply until claimants are working 40 hours a week at the minimum wage.
  • Tougher conditionality should also apply to workers on fixed-term or temporary contracts, to stop them moving back on benefits. If they fail to take sufficient steps to find replacement work, elements of universal credit should be delayed or withdrawn.

Source: Matthew Oakley, Welfare Reform 2.0: Long-term Solutions, Not Short-term Savings, Policy Exchange
LinksReport | Policy Exchange press release