Ministers must provide claimants with high quality tailored support

The Welfare Reform Bill has finally arrived with new promises of tailored support for claimants couched in the language of ‘rights and responsibilities’.

While we are used to public cynicism about whether politicians are as good as their word, we would all like to believe that the promises of high quality tailored support will be kept.

But claimants have been let down many times before when they’ve been forced onto sham schemes that not only do them little good but alienate them from the services that should be there to help them.

It would be easy for politicians to end any cynicism in this instance. They should make access to high quality, individually tailored support an entitlement on the face of the bill,bolstered by statutory guarantees of quality.

Parliamentarians, whose support for the welfare reform agenda has been very much dependent on good faith that their constituents who face barriers to work will indeed receive high quality support, should amend the bill to create a statutory entitlement with robust quality guarantees.

They should also prevent the bill introducing a great injustice: a major loophole in the minimum wage protection.

The ‘work for your benefit’ clause will allow long-term unemployed people to be forced into full-time work for the equivalent of £1.73 an hour for up to 6 months.

If the Government is able to arrange work for claimants for a period, that could be excellent news. But work deserves a decent wage.

British people believe in a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work. The proposals would exploit unemployed people and send the dangerous message that work does not pay.

Backbenchers should also demand the Government rethink some of its plans in the light of the economic situation as the bill makes its passage through parliament.

With a recession well underway, harsh new sanctions for those without work are senseless and unfair.

To protect family security, the Government must urgently direct fiscal stimulus towards the poorest families, many of whom are facing either job loss or a reduced working week, not threaten them with penalties.

Harsh sanctions are surely more appropriate for the architects of the recession, not for its victims.

Kate Green is the chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top