The government has announced a new employment scheme called Help to Work. People in long-term unemployment who are capable of work will be asked to work in return for their benefits.
It will give Job Centre staff a new range of options to support people to help them get into work. The rules will apply to anyone who has been on benefits for two years on the existing Work Programme scheme.
Jobcentre advisers can now tailor plans for individuals, according to the particular barriers to work they may have. The new measures include intensive coaching, a requirement to meet with a Jobcentre Plus adviser every day, or taking part in a community work placement for up to 6 months so claimants build the skills needed to secure a full-time job.
There are currently more than 600,000 vacancies in the UK economy at any one time, and these new measures are intended to ensure that as the economy improves everyone with the ability to work has the support and the opportunity to do so.
Claimants who lack work experience – where this is felt to be holding them back from finding a job – may be asked to undertake a placement, which will also benefit their local community. This would include a range of roles in the voluntary and community sector that will give the claimant skills and experience within the work place. This could include gardening projects, running community cafes or even restoring historical sites and war memorials.
The placements will be for up to 6 months for 30 hours a week and will be backed up by at least 4 hours of supported job searching each week to help turn the experience into full time employment.
Prime Minister David Cameron said, “A key part of our long-term economic plan is to move to full employment, making sure that everyone who can work is in work. We are seeing record levels of employment in Britain, as more and more people find a job, but we need to look at those who are persistently stuck on benefits. This scheme will provide more help than ever before, getting people into work and on the road to a more secure future.
Recently, George Osborne committed the Conservatives to targeting full employment, saying that tax and welfare changes would help achieve it.
He said he was committed to “securing the fullest possible level of employment by helping business to create new jobs and cutting taxes.”
He also said there are “there are many reasons why Britain should aim to have the lowest employment rate of any of the world’s leading economies, to have more people working than any of the other countries in the G7 group”.
Mr. Osborne mentioned his ambition to make the UK “the best place in the world to create a job; to get a job; to keep a job; to be helped to look for another job if you leave one. A modern approach to full employment means backing business. It means lowering the taxes on jobs and reforming welfare.”
The scheme might also improve the UK’s level of unemployment, which has fallen by 77,000 to a five-year low of 2.24m in the three months before February. The unemployment rate now stands at 6.9% of the adult working population, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Average earnings in the three months leading up to February grew 1.7% compared with a year earlier. This also comes as inflation was recorded to have decreased to 1.6% in March. It is the first time since the spring of 2010 that the increase in average wages has exceeded the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation. It is also the first time since the recession that unemployment has fallen below 7%.
In addition to this the unemployment figure for 16 to 24-year-olds decreased by 38,000 in the three months preceding February to 881,000, which it is the best its been the for the last five years.
What do you believe is the best way to help unemployment in the UK and how you believe the Help to Work scheme could be improved?