Tories question effectiveness of welfare reform policy

July 10, 2009 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

by Peter Taberner

Shadow Leader of the House Alan Duncan launched an attack on the government’s flagship welfare reform policy Pathway to Work during business statements yesterday.

“This scheme was established—at a cost of £129 million this year alone—to help people get off incapacity benefit and find employment,” he said.

“However, statistics released by the Department yesterday show that fewer than one in 10 people who have started on the programme have actually managed to find work.

“How on earth do the Government plan to deal with the grim rise in unemployment that we are facing, and which has been caused by the recession, when the track record of what they have tried to do already seems such a dismal failure?”

In reply Leader of the House Harriett Harman said: “The hon. Gentleman talked about Pathways to Work.

“It is very important indeed that we help everybody who wants to get into work to find their way back to the world of work.

“He will know that the pathways programme deals with those who have the greatest problems.

“They may have had a problem of alcohol or drug abuse in their past. They may have mental illness problems or they may have been in prison.

“They may have a range of problems or a combination of them all. The pathways programme says that there is nobody we write off. We do not say, “That’s it. You’re written off, you can’t ever play your part in the world of work.”

“We should recognise that it is sometimes very difficult to help those people back into work and we will not have a 90 per cent. success rate, but that does not mean that it is not important for those programmes to go ahead and help people into work.”

Ms Harman also responded to criticism from Conservative MP for Putney Justine Greening about Jobcentre Plus’ resources after four branches were closed leaving just a single branch remaining in her Borough of Wandsworth.

“I would like to pay tribute to those who work in jobcentres and Jobcentre Plus,” Ms Harman said.

“They do an incredibly important job.

“The service has been transformed from what it was during the last recession, when people sat behind grilles and paid out unemployment benefit, or signed people off on to incapacity benefit, but did not help them to get back into work.

“There is a whole range of work and training now available to people who face the awful fact of unemployment.

“I hope that the hon. Lady will support the extra investment that we put into Jobcentre Plus to make sure that it can work even better on behalf of those who face unemployment.”


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