Work and Pensions Committee calls for more employment support to address economic inactivity

Work and Pensions Committee calls for more employment support to address economic inactivity

The Work and Pensions Committee has called for more employment support to be made available to people who are not in work, in order to address the problem of economic inactivity.

The Committee's report, published yesterday, found that there are currently around 9 million people in the UK who are economically inactive, meaning that they are neither in work nor seeking work, representing around 21% of the working-age population.

The Committee's report found that there are a number of factors that contribute to economic inactivity, including a lack of skills and qualifications, long-term health conditions and discrimination.

The Committee's report makes a number of recommendations to address the problem of economic inactivity, including:

  • Widening the eligibility of future support programmes with current schemes Kickstart and Restart recording underspends
  • Person centred support
  • Devolving delivery of support to local authorities to make the most of local knowledge and expertise
  • Supporting the self-employed and to replace the withdrawn New Enterprise Allowance Increasing the minimum wage
  • Tackle mental health and offer support within any future work programmes

The committee's chair, Sir Stephen Timms MP, said: “Helping more people find and stay in work will both transform the lives of those securing a job and benefit employers struggling to fill vacancies. 

“The Government needs a fresh approach to employment support, widening eligibility to people outside the benefit system and responding to the particular problems of younger and older workers and people with disabilities—groups particularly affected by the pandemic.

“The Government should also develop a new self-employment support scheme.  For many people, including older people and disabled people, starting a business could return them to the labour market.”

Cllr Kevin Bentley, chairman of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board, said: “Everyone deserves the opportunity to fulfil their potential by upskilling or retraining to find and progress in jobs, with local councils best placed to connect them, working alongside businesses and our vital training organisations.

“As this report recognises, each area has its own unique labour market including a mix of jobs, qualification levels, unemployment and vacancies, therefore it makes sense to devolve responsibilities for addressing these to local authorities.

“We need to move away from a top-down, centralised approach. Given the right powers and resources over employment and skills funding for every place, councils could build on their track record of helping to get people back into work - including those who are furthest from the jobs market - and plugging growing skills gaps.

“Using their unrivalled local insight, knowledge and proven record in delivering more for less, local leaders want to unlock this potential talent and get the best value for money from the billions currently spent on various national disjointed schemes.”

Photo Credit: Istock

Video Credit: Work and Pensions Committee

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