Updated Jun 2014
In today's Britain, 'welfare' is complex, varied and interwoven with almost every other part of the policy landscape. As a result, debates about welfare often rely on debates about priorities and spending in other areas, such as employment, skills and social care.
The Work Programme is letting down people and places with weak labour market prospects. It is not delivering for people who need help most, it is not taking into account local labour market conditions, and it is failing to coordinate employment support with local delivery of other public services.
We propose that
a new national programme for mainstream jobseekers should be established alongside a localised programme for those facing greater barriers to finding and sustaining work
Particularly for young people, long periods out of touch with the job market lead to 'scarring effects', such as lower earnings later in life.
all young people should be earning or learning
Endorsed by Labour, Jan 2014
a separate 'youth track' for young people that removes them from the adult welfare system altogether, while preventing them from drifting into long-term inactivity
As part of this youth system, we propose a youth allowance, which would support young people to look for work or complete their education, and a youth guarantee, which would ensure that all young people have access to further education, an apprenticeship or paid work experience.
national salary insurance, a new scheme to support people who have lost their job
National salary insurance would provide people who have a good employment record with a much higher level of support when they lose their job, providing real security when it's needed most, but require this support to be repaid when they return to employment.
This scheme would reinforce the contributory principle: that those who contribute into the collective pot while working have access to better protection if they fall on hard times.
The existing Work Programme fails to place any upper limit how long we are prepared to tolerate anyone being unemployed.
a job guarantee for people who have been unemployed for more than 12 months
A guaranteed job, paying the minimum wage or better, is a backstop for people who have not been able to find work through the Work Programme or other welfare-to-work services.
Adopted by Labour, Sep 2011
The need to reduce the deficit is putting pressure on the benefits system.
However, the best way to control rises in the benefits bill is to tackle the deep-rooted factors that drive higher spending, such as low pay, insufficient housing, high childcare costs and long-term unemployment.
it is vital to pursue a strategy for shifting the balance of spending away from cash transfers and towards social investments in housing, childcare and employment
In addition, tough choices will need to be made about benefits that are lower priority. For instance, additional pensioner benefits, like the winter fuel allowance, should be restricted to those on lower incomes.