Public and Commercial Services Union
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Union Responds To Welfare Green Paper

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) responded to today’s Green Paper, ‘Work, Better off: next steps to full employment’, maintaining that there was insufficient evidence of the ability of the private and voluntary sectors to outperform public sector agencies such as Jobcentre Plus in getting the long term unemployed back to work.

Pointing to the success of initiatives mostly run by Jobcentre Plus, including Action Teams, the New Deal and Pathways to Work, the union also warned that there was a lack of capacity and expertise in the private and voluntary sectors to fulfil the role mapped out in the Green Paper.

With approximately 15,000 Jobcentre staff axed over the last two years, over 500 jobcentres and benefit offices closed and the threat of compulsory redundancies looming large, the union expressed fears that the moves to outsource to the private and third sectors outlined in the Green Paper are being driven by a desire to plug gaps and cut costs.

Whilst welcoming commitments in the Green Paper that Jobcentre Plus will remain the main platform for people getting help back into work, the union expressed deep unease about the prospect of the profit motive being introduced into helping people into work. The union warned that the commercialisation of the process would inevitably lead to contractors concentrating on more job ready clients, whilst ignoring those with more intractable problems in order to hit their targets.

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “The public sector and Jobcentre Plus consistently outperform the private and voluntary sectors in getting people back into work when they have the same flexibilities and funding. With huge question marks over the capacity and expertise in the private and third sectors remaining, there is a real danger that the introduction of markets will be a waste of money, leading to corners being cut and people placed into unsustainable work.

“Coming against a backdrop of hundreds of office closures and over 15,000 job losses in Jobcentre Plus, there is a real danger that other aspects of the Green Paper, including more individualised help and support from Jobcentre Plus will be undermined. Over the coming weeks we will be building a detailed response and putting the case for giving dedicated public servants the resources and flexibility as a way to achieving the government’s aim for full employment, rather than fragmentation and the outsourcing of vital services.”

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