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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

4.Welfare to Work


Unemployment has been on a downward trend since the early 1990s. However, some groups – such as those with no or low qualifications, some ethnic minorities and people with a long-term illness or disability – remain vulnerable to longer term unemployment. Unemployment also remains consistently high in some geographical areas.

Within the present system, there is limited flexibility to develop customised solutions in areas of particular need. Only people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) are automatically offered advice on finding work or improving their employability. The New Deals for Young People, the Long-Term Unemployed, Lone Parents and Disabled People provide tailored help through access to a personal adviser. However, they are aimed at specific client groups.

Currently, people have to deal with a number of different institutions when claiming benefits – including the Employment Service, Benefits Agency, local authorities and the Child Support Agency.

The Government is introducing three new Welfare to Work initiatives. These are:

  • ONE, the Government set out its plans for the ONE service in A new contract for welfare: THE GATEWAY TO WORK (Cm 4102, October 1998). ONE will bring together the Employment Service, Benefits Agency and other welfare providers at a single point of contact. New claimants of working age will have access to a personal adviser, who will work with them to assess their potential for employment and help them plan a route to independence.

  • The New Deal for Partners of Unemployed People, launched in April 1999 following pathfinders in Cardiff, Leeds and Tayside. £60 million from the windfall tax has been set aside to provide partners of unemployed people with expert, personalised help to find work. In addition, partners aged 18 – 24 who do not have children will be able to go onto the New Deal for Young People;

  • Employment Zones, which will target intensive and innovative help on areas of particular need. In Employment Zones, personal job accounts will bring together money currently attributable to benefit, training and other programmes and enable these to be used more flexibly, to help clients back to work. The Employment Zones Consultation Paper, published on 2 February 1999, set out detailed plans for implementing Employment Zones. The consultation period ended on 30 April 1999.

The ONE service is being piloted in twelve different areas. The first four pilots began in June 1999. Interviews will initially operate on a voluntary basis for non-JSA claimants, until the provisions of the Act come into force.

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