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UK Policy

Employment and benefits policy is reserved to the UK Government through theDepartment for Work and Pensions (DWP) which liaises regularly with the Scottish Government on the interaction with devolved policy areas such as skills, health and childcare.  Jobcentre Plus (JCP) is the brand-name for the customer facing side of DWP activities.   

Before and after the arrival of the Coalition government in Westminster, UK policy on employment has been driven by the view that work remains the best route out of poverty for most people and that, along with the right to benefits and support, goes the responsibility to actively seek work.  Building on trends established under the previous Labour government, there has also been an increasing marketisation of Welfare to Work, culminating in the introduction of the  Work Programme in 2011.

Designed for a range of claimants who are long-term unemployed (i.e. somewhere between 3 and 12 months depending on circumstances), the Work Programme is DWP's flagship Welfare to Work programme. In Scotland, it is being delivered by two Prime Contractors: Ingeus UK Ltd and Working Links, with referrals split randomly to begin with. 

The delivery model for the Work Programme is described as 'black box', meaning that, apart from meeting basic service standards, providers have almost complete autonomy in how they address their customers' needs.  Provision lasts up to two years, with contractors rewarded strictly on the basis of sustained employment results.

Prior to eligibility for the Work Programme, customers of Jobcentre Plus have access to a range of other  Get Britain Working (GBW) measures to help them find suitable employment.  These are:

The New Enterprise Allowance (self-employment option)

This option offers volunteer business mentors and financial support up to a value of £2000 to customers who get their business plan approved. 

Working Together (volunteering option)

Jobcentre Plus is working with the voluntary and community sector locally to deliver this.

Work Experience (initially for young people)

For young jobseekers (18-24) who are 13 weeks unemployed.  Under the Youth Contract, around 10,000 places are being made available in Scotland for each of the next three years. 

Work Clubs (community-led activity)

This is about the development of a network of community-led hubs (some already in existence) for the sharing of skills and experience that can help people progress towards work.

Enterprise Clubs (community-led activity)

As per Work Clubs but focussed on self-employment.

Sector-based Work Academies

These are designed to encourage pre-employment training and work placements in key employment sectors. 

Our map of DWP provision may help to navigate the current offer from DWP. 

Alongside  Get Britain Working (GBW) the UK Government has also pulled together a series of measures to help young people aged 1824 into employment.  Known as the Youth Contract, the package includes (GB-wide): 

  • wage incentives for employers taking on a young person from the Work Programme, Work Choice or (in selected areas) Jobcentre Plus
  • the offer of work experience to every young person who wants it
  • extra places on sector-based work academies

For disabled people who want to work, the equivalent to the Work Programme is Work Choice.  This is being delivered across four package areas in Scotland by Shaw Trust and (in the Highlands and Islands district) Momentum Scotland. 

Disabled people can also access sheltered employment through Remploy, which is an agency of DWP.  However, following the Sayce Review on specialist disability employment services, this kind of support is being significantly reduced in favour of approaches which help individuals into mainstream employment.       

In terms of the interaction with out-of-work benefits, finally, the DWP is working towards the introduction of a  Universal Credit to replace existing benefits including Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.  To be introduced in phases from late 2013, the aim of Universal Credit is to support a dynamic labour market by smoothing the transitions into and out of work.

Key documents for the UK policy context include:

Universal Credit: welfare that works (2010)

21st Century Welfare (2010)

Government response - Disability employment support: fulfilling potential (2012)

Getting in, staying in and getting on: Disability employment support fit for the future (2011)