A radical case for change to employment support

By Pawda Tjoa | 03 November 2020

Let local areas – not the Department for Work and Pensions – provide better support for people facing barriers to work, argues Pawda Tjoa

T oday, over 200,000 more people are unemployed than a year ago. While debate has focused on the newly unemployed, record job losses mean that millions of people undergoing long-term unemployment – often due to disabilities and health issues – are ignored. This group are finding themselves being pushed further to the back of the queue when it comes to getting the support they need to get back into work.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has long been criticised for neglecting people facing multiple barriers into work. In fact, of the 2.3 million people facing complex disadvantage (such as disabilities, health conditions, and contact with the criminal justice system), only 4% join the labour market every year. It is unlikely to get better as communities face the unprecedented effects of the pandemic. While the DWP showed itself capable of meeting the huge surge in new Universal Credit (UC) applications during the summer lockdown, it is unlikely to have the capacity or capability to prioritise people facing complex disadvantage into the workplace during this time of crisis.

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