Public and Commercial Services Union
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Welfare system needs more staff not more reform

Plans by the new work and pensions secretary for further reform of welfare and benefits are doomed to fail because of government cuts to public spending, PCS says.

Following the announcement in the Queen’s speech of another welfare reform bill - just six months after the previous government’s draconian Welfare Reform Act passed into law - Iain Duncan Smith has been setting out his ideas to reduce the number of people claiming benefits.

But the announcement of a recruitment freeze in the civil service and plans to cut thousands of temporary staff will have a devastating impact on the department as it tries to cope with the effects of the recession. With unemployment rising, the Department for Work and Pensions needs more staff not fewer, the union said.

PCS believes the government should be reducing unemployment by creating jobs - not driving people off welfare and further into poverty.

More on our response to £6bn in cuts

Our response to the Queen's speech

Mr Duncan Smith’s plans to force more people into work through harsher sanctions, and to extend the role of the private sector in back to work schemes, will do nothing to support unemployed workers. Also, all the evidence shows that voluntary back to work schemes, delivered by dedicated public servants, are the most effective.

If the government wants to address barriers to work, it should tackle low pay in the workplace and the discrimination faced by workers with disabilities

If the government wants to address barriers to work, it should tackle low pay in the workplace and the discrimination faced by workers with disabilities, especially mental health issues, the union added.

Cuts to the Future Jobs Fund, and the recruitment subsidy for those out of work for six months or more, will also damage the employment prospects of young people and the long-term unemployed.

PCS deputy general secretary Hugh Lanning said: “Any plans Iain Duncan Smith has will be massively undermined by his government’s cuts programme. The last time the Tories were in power, welfare spending went up because of mass cuts and privatisation, leading to mass unemployment.

“One minute the government is announcing cuts that will make more people unemployed, then it says it wants to put less support in place to help them. The government will soon find out that cutting staff and cutting unemployment cannot go hand in hand.”

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