Monday, 12 April 2010

Today Programme discussion

I've just listened to a short discussion on the BBC Today programme focussing on welfare-to-work. It was mainly about those on IB, with the usual vagueness about the distinction between those being shunted off IB onto JSA, and those who are simply out of work. We didn't learn anything. Jim Knight gave figures for back-to-work success which nobody could or would challenge. Theresa May for the Tories pressed their line that claimants would start "individualised programmes" immediately with private providers, with the focus on "sustainable" jobs, i.e. lasting at least a year. Steve Webb for the Lib Dems was asked whether they would use private companies and, disappointingly, dodged the question, saying they wanted to harness bright ideas from everywhere; but he did say that they want to make the benefits system more flexible so that people can work less than full-time without losing their benefits, rather than the current, all-or-nothing approach. Jim Knight for Labour talked about a "better off in work guarantee", meaning people would be at least £40 per week better off when working. He also stressed the Future Jobs Fund and various other measures, which May scorned, re-stating her previous point about immediate help into sustainable work. Steve Webb made a good point about not blaming the victims.
From the point of view of the providers there's little to worry about, it seems, unless the Tories get in and stick with their determination to pay them only on sustainable outcomes.

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