Select Committee on Work and Pensions Third Report


X. Conclusion

163. The evidence we have received during this inquiry provides support for the Government's employment strategy. We have received no definitive evidence on what might happen if there were to be an unexpected severe downturn in the economy, but nevertheless consider that the Government should have contingency plans. We believe, however, that there is much to be done further to improve the situation for unemployed people since, as the number of people out of work decreases, it will become more difficult to find sustainable jobs for those who remain unemployed and who are likely to have the most problems to overcome before finding work.

164. Particular areas of concern are:

  • the complexity of initiatives, the number of pilot schemes and the complex qualification criteria for funding;
  • the need to ensure that Personal Advisers in Jobcentre Plus are fully equipped, trained and resourced so that they can provide, on a genuinely individual basis, the initial advice, ongoing encouragement and longer-term support which we believe is necessary in order for there to be a sustained improvement in the number of people in work, resulting in savings on expenditure on benefits;[159]
  • the need to ensure that the training and skills being offered to unemployed people matches the requirements of employers in the surrounding area; and
  • the need to ensure that any remaining regional and local differences in services for the unemployed are eradicated, while ensuring there is sufficient flexibility to provide extra help where needed, with a minimum of bureaucracy.

165. This inquiry has been undertaken in the first session of this Parliament during which the Committee was set up to reflect the new structure of Government that created the Department for Work and Pensions. We believe the Government's employment strategy is so central to its socio-economic objectives that we shall continue closely to monitor developments; we may wish to return to the subject in a future inquiry and we will certainly await the Government's reply with interest.

159   The US experience is that decreased benefit bills are likely to be offset, if not negated, by higher childcare costs. Back

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