In December 2008 Professor Paul Gregg published his review on the effectiveness of the balance of expectations and support for working age benefit claimants. This was entitled “Realising Potential: A Vision for Personalised Conditionality and Support”. Copies are available in the Library of the House.
Today my department is publishing a discussion paper setting out further details about how it intends to take forward the recommendations of that review to help many more parents with younger children and employment and support allowance claimants to prepare for work.
We believe that developing the ‘Progression to Work’ approach, proposed by the Gregg Review, will support families, promote employment and help eradicate child poverty. Therefore this discussion paper outlines our latest thinking on how this approach will be designed and tested out. The framework we plan to establish is one where more claimants:
Actively engage with their adviser on an ongoing basis;
Consider, discuss and agree an Action Plan comprising activities they think will improve their prospects of moving back into work; and
Undertake these agreed work preparation activities as part of their own journey towards employment.
This means creating a model where advisers have the necessary skills and capabilities to encourage claimants to co-own, co-produce and take responsibility for their journey back to work.
We want to test the full model proposed by Professor Gregg of higher support and expectations. Because we know that the availability of childcare is so central to enabling parents to realise their aspirations for paid work, we will pay for any additional childcare that claimants need to carry out their action plan. We will also test out whether offering an improved financial incentive for parents to try out work supports them make the full transition from benefits to work.
The current Welfare Reform Bill aims to create the necessary legislation for this approach, initially through a series of pathfinders, subject to parliamentary approval. These pathfinders will cover around a fifth of new and existing ESA claimants and a similar proportion of parents with younger children. Parents with a youngest child aged between one and two will be expected to engage with an adviser and agree an action plan, but undertaking work preparation activities will be voluntary.
This paper is aimed at stakeholder organisations and other interested parties to enable further, more detailed discussions to take place as we move through policy development towards implementation.
Copies of “Realising Potential: developing personalised conditionality and support: A discussion paper on next steps in implementing the Gregg Review” will be placed in the Library of the House.