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Social Security Benefits: Employment

Volume 473: debated on Wednesday 12 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what barriers to work for benefit claimants his Department has identified; and how his Department defines barriers to work. (190308)

The Department does not have an official definition of a barrier to work. In operational terms, barriers are often considered to be those factors which research shows are highly correlated with long durations on benefit.

Those with the biggest barriers to work include:

older workers,

lone parents,

people with disabilities, and

long-term jobseeker’s allowance claimants.

Other groups facing significant barriers include:



recovering drug users,

people with learning difficulties,

people of no fixed abode,

people on probation,

people leaving care, and

people in contact with secondary mental health services.

Former members of HM forces also often face considerable barriers to work. In many cases individuals will have more than one of these barriers influencing their ability to gain employment.

In addition, a key barrier to work is that many benefit claimants are not actually looking for work. An important part of the Government’s Welfare Reform policy is to incentivise and encourage claimants to actively return to the labour market.

The December 2007 report “Ready for work, full employment in our generation” and the January 2008 report “Ready to work, skilled for work: unlocking Britain’s talent” set out our plans to address many of these barriers. Having previously focused on specific groups with lower employment rates, and having been largely successful in raising them, the Government are now increasingly moving to an individualised, flexible approach to ensure as many people as possible have the support they need to get into, and stay, in work.