Department for Work and Pensions
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Making work work for everyone

Making work work for everyone

DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS News Release (DRC-091) issued by The Government News Network on 30 July 2008

A wide ranging review of conditionality will look at how more people can be helped off benefits and into work, announced Secretary of State for Work and Pensions James Purnell today.

The DWP's recent green paper on welfare reform set out how Government will deliver individualised back-to-work programmes. The review, which will run alongside the green paper consultation, will look at what we should expect people to do and the role sanctions can and should play in motivating individuals to engage in the back-to-work support provided. The review will be led by Professor Paul Gregg of the University of Bristol.

James Purnell said:

"We will not let people languish on benefits.

"New evidence published today shows that the conditions and sanctions we have introduced over the last decade have played an important role getting people off benefits and into work.

"But there is still a minority of people who repeatedly fail to do the right thing. It is clear that for them, the current penalties are not effective in changing their behaviour.

"This review will look at what more we can do to further tailor the system to provide the support and the sanctions these people need to get them off benefits and back into work."

Professor Paul Gregg said:

"Over the last decade the welfare system has offered more support to get people back into work and expected more of people in return. This has been a central part of what has worked best in recent British welfare policy - with over a million fewer people on out-of-work benefits - while underpinning a fair deal of rights and responsibilities.

"The recent welfare reform green paper set out a number of significant proposals to extend this approach - to new groups and with new expectations. The next phase of reform is to shape a far more personalised system, matching support with expectations of individuals that are effective, appropriate and challenging. I am delighted to be leading this review to set out such a vision and the steps that will be needed to get there."

The aim of the review is to develop a challenging, appropriate and effective sanction regime tailored to the individual's needs and that motivates people to do the right thing. Specifically the review will look at:

* Escalating conditions for the long term unemployed or those thought to be abusing the system.

* Reasonable yet challenging conditions for those recovering, or adapting to a disability or health condition - drawing on expert medical advice.

* Conditions that take account of the work potential and caring needs of whole families

* Experience from across the world, including America, Denmark, Australia and the Netherlands, to take best practice to ensure the UK sanctions system has the most flexible approach to get people back into work.

* How the latest behavioural economics can have an impact on individual motivation.

New evidence published today shows that having conditions and sanctions on benefits has helped more people off welfare and into work. But there are still some who are not deterred by the threat of having their benefits cut.

Notes to editors

1. Terms of reference of the review:

* To set out a vision for a more personalised conditionality regime - and what this might look like in practice. This should be based on the objective that expectations and potential sanctions are challenging, appropriate and effective - given individual's needs and circumstances.

* To consider the evidence about the impact and effectiveness of conditionality in the UK and from different international regimes - drawing out potential lessons for future reform.

* To consider the implications of the latest evidence from the fields of behavioural economics and social psychology for conditionality policy.

* To consider what reforms would be needed to the welfare system to deliver a more personalised conditionality regime. These are likely to involve changes both to policy and delivery, but should not be based on proposals with significant additional resource implications.

* To consider the potential trade-offs and tensions in delivering a more personalised conditionality regime - for instance balancing clear expectations and fair treatment with greater flexibility and discretion.

2. Paul Gregg of the University of Bristol will lead the review. He is an academic of significant renown, has had a distinguished career in social policy development and was a member of the Council of Economic Advisors to the former Chancellor.

3. The announcement of the review takes place alongside the publication of More Support, higher expectations - the role of conditionality in improving employment outcomes, a background paper reviewing the current conditionality regime and the evidence of its effectiveness. The paper includes:

- The historical development of conditionality within the UK welfare system, for different groups of people.
- A description of the current conditionality regime, setting out the expectations and sanctions on different groups.
- The impact and effectiveness of the conditionality regime for different groups over the last decade.
- A summary of international evidence about what works in using conditionality to improve employment outcomes.
- Relevant lessons for behavioural economics and social psychology.

4. The document More Support, higher expectations - the role of conditionality in improving employment outcomes, is available on the DWP website at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/conditionality

Website http://www.dwp.gov.uk

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