I have been reading the IPPR Condition of Britain report (see link at bottom) which was plastered all over the press with Ed Miliband’s speech saying what Britain needed. Well I can tell you Ed a fair system for all , which is no easy task for anyone and no one would disagree this country is a mess, but who bloody caused it yes your Bankers, who dropped the ball, those in power while the rest of the peasants worked their fingers to bone.
I wont pull no punches as there will be upset and hardship for most of the peasants while those at the top drink the cream.Its not all bad news to be honest there are some good points in it and that means you only need one hand to add them up. I will focus on welfare provision as this is what my blogs are generally about and this one is long but relevant.
We come to our the future of our young;
For 18–21-year-olds, existing out-of-work benefits should be replaced by a youth allowance that provides financial support conditional on looking for work or completing education, targeted at those from low-income families.
8. A youth guarantee for 18–21-year-olds should be established that offers access to education or training plus intensive support to find work or an apprenticeship, with compulsory paid work experience for those not earning or learning within six months.
9. The National Citizen Service programme should be expanded so that half of young people aged 16 and 17 are taking part by 2020, using money saved from holding down cash benefits to families with older children.
10 The remit of youth offending teams should be extended to those aged up to 20, in order to provide locally-led, integrated support to help keep young adult offenders out of prison, cut reoffending and prevent them from entering a life of crime.
Again our young people who have been ignored for a very long time will have a chance of gaining some experience via the youth allowance, however I would prefer that the government promised to pay our young people a wage with real hands on experience via old fashioned apprenticeships with a job guarantee at the end of it with the employer. It is not only beneficial to our young people but to the company too, by allowing growth of both company and market ,while allowing those coming to end of work life retiring as before, so these trained young people can take their place in job market.
Next we come to working life which relates to benefit clamiants ;
- The National Insurance Fund should be given institutional and financial independence from government, with a responsibility for ensuring that national insurance contributions are sufficient to finance contributory benefit entitlements over the long term.
- As a step towards reviving the contributory principle, the rate of contributory JSA should be increased by £30 a week, and those entitled to it should also gain access to help with mortgage interest payments if they become unemployed.
- The next phase of the Work Programme should focus on supporting long-term jobseekers and those recovering from temporary health conditions, with contracts based on meaningful economic geographies and a job guarantee to prevent long-term unemployment.
- Those with a long-term health condition or disability that reduces their capacity to work should participate in ‘New Start’, a new, locally-led supported employment programme for ESA claimants, with integrated budgets and incentives for success.
- Small firms should be able to recover sick pay costs for employees hired from ESA. In addition, there should be greater back-to-work engagement between individuals and employers during sickness absence, matched by a longer period of employment protection.
- An independent, non-state Affordable Credit Trust should be established to capitalise and mobilise local, non-profit lenders capable of providing low-cost loans, while also supporting low-income households to build up savings of their own.
The vast majority of people in Britain want to work, for their own self-esteem, to support their families, and to make a contribution to society.
One of the biggest tasks for the next government will be to enable as many people as possible to contribute to society through paid employment, including those who need to balance work with vital caring responsibilities. A further priority should be to improve the financial protections available to those who have made a contribution through work and care.These moves will be essential to help families secure rising standards of living, finance public services and social protections, and rebuild public trust in the social security system.Our priorities are a more focused Work Programme; a separate, qualitatively different ‘New Start’ programme for people with long-term health conditions or disabilities; a job guarantee to prevent long-term unemployment; and steps to increase the retention of sick and disabled people in the workplace and improve the incentives for employers to hire them in the first place.As well as supporting people to find employment, the contributions that people make through working or caring also need to be better recognised and rewarded.Our goal should be a social security system that offers more generous temporary benefits for people who have contributed, alongside better employment support so that fewer people claim out-of-work benefits for long periods.Our priority is an act of institutional reform that would directly connect contributions and entitlements, through a reconstituted National Insurance Fund.Finally, among the most pernicious and damaging trends of recent years has been the rise of personal debt (Lawrence and Cooke 2014). Many families, faced with falls in income and rises in the costs of basic essentials, have been forced into the arms of payday lenders who often charge extremely high fees and interest rates. Rather than helping to protect families from such dependency, the welfare system has often contributed to the problem.By the establishment of a new non-state, non-market institution – an Affordable Credit Trust – to mobilise and capitalise alternative providers of affordable credit. These local providers should also support low-income households to build up savings of their own. Such an institution would give many more people a realistic chance of building greater financial resilience and independence, and reduce their reliance on the social security system.
This institutional reform would also tap into the national insurance ‘brand’, and start to restore the sense that citizens have a stake in a social security system that offers ‘something for something’
Now where have we heard those buzz words before..oh yes the ‘something for nothing’ culture spouted by Coalition! It gets better though get this they are going to reinvent the wheel
To achieve this goal, we argue that the National Insurance Fund (NIF) should be rebuilt as an independent institution for financing the national insurance system.The government introduce a National Insurance Act that would reconstitute the NIF as an independent, ringfenced account, separate from government receipts and expenditures
In the first instance this would include: the single-tier state pension; contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA); contribution-based employment and support allowance (ESA);statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay;maternity allowance; and bereavement benefits.This would make explicit the fact that NICs finance contributory benefits and determine eligibility for them, and that they are not just an additional income tax in disguise.
A reconstituted NIF should be governed by a board of trustees representing the interests of those who have a stake in the national insurance system: employees, employers, the self-employed, pensioners and carers. The trustees should be responsible for ensuring that the fund operates in the interests of all members and maintains financial sustainability over time. The NIF should have the capacity to conduct and publish analysis and projections of its revenues and expenditure, and be required to provide regular updates on its financial position in order to improve transparency and public engagement.The board of trustees should also be responsible for making annual recommendations to parliament about future contribution rates and entitlements, setting out the implications for the NIF’s balance sheet. These recommendations should include any reforms needed to respond to economic or demographic shifts, such as further increases to the state pension age. Recommendations should represent the consensus view among the trustees, following widespread consultation and engagement.
Final decisions about contribution rates and entitlements should remain with parliament, but the government should not be able to ignore the trustees’ recommendations. If it disagreed with them, the government should have to make alternative proposals that are consistent with hitting the same target balance for the NIF as the board had sought to achieve (as well as explaining why they chose not to implement the consensus recommendations of the trustees).
Now forgive me if I misread this but trustees should make decisions but the final decision is in parliament? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms or are they just fobbing us off with another Quango without any teeth, where they get final say anyway?
Second, the structure of SMIcould be changed to reduce its cost. For instance, after a two-year period, further SMI payments could be recouped through a charge on the property, redeemed when the claimant is back in work or when the property is sold.This would give people time to get back to work, adjust their finances, or move to a more affordable property. Support would not be cut off after this point, but it should be reclaimed at a later date. It is not appropriate for the state to permanently subsidise families or individuals to live in a home they cannot afford – especially when they, rather than the state, benefit from any uplift in its capital value.
The Work Programme currently provides back-to-work support for those who have been claiming JSA for a year and those in the ‘work related activity group’ of ESA. It is delivered by ‘prime providers’, largely from the private sector, operating across 18 large contract areas across England, Scotland and Wales. After a rocky start, the performance of the Work Programme is now broadly in line with expectations and previous, similar employment programmes for JSA claimants. However, it is not proving effective at boosting employment among ESA claimants.
The core activity of Work Programme providers consists of tried and tested back-to-work strategies like supported jobsearch, help with maintaining a CV, and interview preparation, plus some extra help with skills or confidence-building. Participants are also required to demonstrate that they are taking steps to get back into work. This combination of support and obligation tends to be sufficient for the majority of jobseekers, but it is rarely effective for people with long-term or chronic health conditions that reduce their capacity to work, or for those with little or no record of employment.Often, the biggest challenge for such groups is finding an employer willing to take them on.
As such, the next phase of the Work Programme should continue to cater for JSA claimants who have not found work during a year with Jobcentre Plus. However, only ESA claimants close to recovering from a temporary health condition should continue to participate in it.The Work Programme’s activation strategies are likely to be appropriate for this group. This segmentation should be determined by a reformed work capability assessment (WCA), which should aim to better distinguish between temporary and chronic limitations to work capacity ESA claimants with a chronic health condition or disability that is likely to reduce their capacity to work for a long time should instead participate in a qualitatively different ‘New Start’ supported employment programme.
Contracts for the next Work Programme should be let on the basis of local enterprise partnership (LEP) geographies, matching the boundaries of combined authorities wherever possible.The next Work Programme should continue to reward providers when participants secure a job and then stay in work for a certain period. This would retain the current strong focus on employment outcomes and minimise the need for central prescription. However, providers should also receive an amount of funding for every participant (the ‘attachment fee’) throughout the whole contract period; this should not be progressively withdrawn, as it is now.
To prevent long-term unemployment, if someone has not found work after a year on the Work Programme they should be guaranteed paid work experience and be required to take it up. This would mean that no one could spend more than two years unemployed (one year on the Work Programme rather than two, plus an initial year with Jobcentre Plus). This ‘job guarantee’ should involve 25 hours a week of meaningful work for up to six months, paid at least the minimum wage, with another 10 hours a week of training and help with looking for work on the open labour market. People should not be able to continue receiving JSA if they refuse this offer. In time, a similar offer and obligation could be extended to ESA claimants on the Work Programme, consistent with their capacity to work.
Like the Work Programme, this job guarantee for the long-term unemployed should be organised on the basis of LEP geographies, with its delivery led by either a combined authority, a consortia of local authorities within an LEP, a contracted provider, or the local Jobcentre Plus. Public, private and voluntary sector organisations should be able to bid for funding to offer paid work placements that are of value to both the individual and the community.To pay for this policy, we propose scrapping the government’s Help to Work scheme for those who leave the Work Programme without a job.However, it is not certain how much this would raise – and the aim would be as little as possible, due to effective provider performance.Therefore, to complete the funding of a job guarantee, we propose raising the higher rate of capital gains tax (CGT) from 28 to 35 per cent, and devoting £220 million of the £400 million a year it would raise (based on estimates in HMRC 2014) to prevent long-term unemployment.
Despite an improving labour market, disabled people continue to face a substantial employment penalty.This suggests that worklessness among disabled people is largely structural, and not strongly linked to the economic cycle.
However, there are a significant number of people who have a long-term health condition that will affect their capacity to work for a long time, possibly permanently (in terms of the hours or the type of paid employment they can undertake), but which need not prevent them from working altogether.The notion of ‘distance from the labour market’ sets up a binary distinction between whether someone can or cannot work, rather than asking what kind of employment might be possible and what it would take for that to be enabled.Despite contrary intentions, the WCA remains a gateway to benefits, rather than to support with securing work.
We suggest that such a supported employment programme for ESA claimants with a long-term health condition should be named ‘New Start’, to indicate a fresh, positive approach that is rooted in disabled people’s own potential and capacities. New Start should also replace the specialist disability employment programme, Work Choice, when its contracts expire. To be effective, the introduction of New Start would need to be combined with reforms to the WCA that orientate it towards identifying the kinds of work that an individual could undertake, and the support they are likely to need to be able to do so, rather than simply operating as a gateway to benefits.Unlike traditional back-to-work programmes, this approach seeks to directly confront the so-called ‘demand-side’ problem, by working with specific employers to make a successful job match possible.Moreover, it would treat employment as often being an essential part of treatment or condition-management, rather than this being something that must precede entry into work.
By charting a course between traditional ‘activation’ strategies and ‘no support, no conditionality’ tracks, the aim would be for more ESA claimants to engage in back-to-work activity, and for fewer to enter the support group.
The fundamental principle of New Start should be that anyone who wants to work can do so. It should have a positive and empowering culture designed to nurture and unlock individuals’ talents and capacities. For this reason, participants should not be mandated to participate in particular activities. However, there should be an obligation on ESA claimants to engage with New Start, and to take responsibility for their own situation. This should involve regular meetings with an employment adviser, and the agreement of a personal employment plan. If a claimant persistently fails to engage with their adviser, there should be a backstop of benefit sanctions. However, this should only be triggered after a face-to-face meeting with a personal adviser to review activity, assess personal circumstances and better understand any underlying problems that are getting in the way of employment.
We therefore recommend that the New Start programme be led by local areas, tapping into local leadership and relationships. It should form part of wider strategies to integrate local services, rather than attempting to drive this process from Whitehall, which has rarely proved effective. Local councils often have far more established relationships with ESA claimants, such as through social housing or social services, than Jobcentre Plus, which has limited contact with this group.
The connection between health and employment services would be particularly important – and has been made more possible by the recent devolution of public health funding to local government, alongside the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) structure. Better employment outcomes would in turn help to improve local health outcomes and potentially reduce local health spending. The role of housing, adult social services, further education and, in some cases, probation or drug and alcohol treatment services in New Start could also be crucial.In addition, local councils should aim to draw in further capacity and resources from primary and secondary health services in their area. This could involve mobilising the active involvement of GPs, and securing agreement for the local CCG to commission occupational health and mental health services consistent with the local New Start plan. Making employment a more prominent focus within the NHS Mandate would further boost such efforts.
If this funding could be further matched by CCGs and LEPs across the country, New Start would have an annual budget of £800 million. With funding at this level, the programme could work with 400,000 ESA claimants – more than three times the number participating in the Work Programme each year.
At this scale, New Start would have the potential to make a substantial impact on the employment rate of people with long-term health conditions or disabilities, while significantly reducing expenditure on ESA and related benefits. Local areas should be free to give participants the right to take New Start support as a personal budget, and to provide a version of a job guarantee backstop to limit the amount of time for which local ESA participants were without work.Therefore, to support the New Start programme, we recommend that small firms are allowed to recover virtually all of the SSP costs they incur for individuals hired directly from ESA. This would reduce the risk of taking on someone who is more likely to take periods of sick leave.
Requiring employers to bear a small portion of the cost would retain an incentive for them to help people on sick leave return to work quickly.This change should be accompanied by ongoing efforts to confront disability discrimination, improve employers’ understanding of disability in the workplace, and increase opportunities for flexible working.Therefore, keeping more people healthy and in work could make a big difference to the number of people who enter the benefit system.With this in mind, the government is currently in the process of introducing a ‘health and work service’ to provide voluntary advice and support to employers and employees, available from the fourth week of sickness absence.
To overcome these challenges, we propose that it be made mandatory for an occupational health plan to be agreed between an employer and employee after 13 weeks of sickness absence, with the input of an occupational health expert. Employees should be obliged to engage with this plan, consistent with their health, and employers should also have obligations to consider reasonable changes that would facilitate a return to work. These could include the offer of an alternative position with the same employer, though with no obligation for the employee to accept a reduction in their terms or conditions at this stage. The aim of these plans should be to promote more active engagement between employer and employee. However, in some cases it might become necessary for an employment tribunal to test whether both parties have done enough to fulfil their obligations.At present, employees are entitled to statutory sick leave for up to 28 weeks if they fall ill or acquire a health condition or disability while in work. If people exhaust their SSP entitlement, they may then have their employment contract terminated.
Therefore, as part of the implementation of universal credit, we recommend that the ESA assessment phase be scrapped, as it automatically delays the point at which people switch their focus from claiming benefit to returning to work. For those who have exhausted employer-funded sick pay, there should instead be an equivalent period of conditional, state-funded sick pay. In such circumstances, the employment contract should be protected during this period, in order to give employees a little longer to recover and return to work, matched by obligations on them to take steps to do so. The employee should have to agree an updated back-to-work plan with their employer, an occupational health expert and a Jobcentre Plus adviser. The goal would be to exhaust absolutely every opportunity for rehabilitation and a return to work, including a requirement to accept alternative job offers from their employer.
For those making a claim for ESA that does not follow a period of sickness-related absence from work, the consequence of scrapping the ESA assessment phase would be to remove the inbuilt three-month wait before a WCA is carried out. This wait is actively damaging for those without a recent job, as it delays the point at which a person’s focus switches from benefit entitlement to a return to work.
I know this is long winded but it is important to those who need to understand the thinking behind the neoliberal fuckup they face in a future government. It isn’t about you the individual its about them getting as many into work as possible (not that is bad thing if you can) and reducing the welfare bill, while handing out more contracts for others to make a mint ,in my opinion they are no better than people traffickers to make a fast buck in this case for for the 1%.