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Our evidence to Commons committee on employment support published

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published our team's written evidence to its inquiry into DWP employment support.

The submission makes a series of points:

  • An alternative claimant count measure is needed. The standard definition – based on whether people lack a job, are looking for work and are available to start work – was not designed for these unusual times. Our first rapid report offers an alternative count of the number who are unemployed and claiming benefits.

  • Personalised coaching support is needed, particularly in relation to helping individuals think about how their skills and experience could be translated into another occupational sector.

  • Claimants also need support when making an application to initiate or sustain a claim for benefits. In our study, claimants mostly received help from partners, friends and families.

  • Supporting people into work and supporting business are two sides of the same coin, yet employment, skills and business support are provided by different government departments. Currently, there are too many programmes competing for businesses’ attention and employers do not want to engage with these programmes if: i) there are significant transaction costs to their engagement; ii) there are not clear business benefits; and iii) they do not know how to engage.

  • Those claiming during the pandemic are more likely to be younger, more highly educated and less likely to have a disability. This cohort of claimants has different needs, notably: they are likely to experience a greater level of income shock when moving onto benefits and they have variegated employment histories and potential future trajectories.

  • The majority of our participants mentioned concerns about the withdrawal of the £20 ‘uplift’ to Universal Credit, the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and the end of the moratorium on evictions. It was anticipated that withdrawal of these measures would lead to a surge in problems of extreme poverty, debt, unemployment, repossessions, and evictions. This is likely to have a significant bearing upon individuals’ needs for support, with issues other than employment needing to be addressed first.

Read the submission in full on the web or as a pdf

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