Abstracts: April 8th, 2009

This report of the working group who examined worklessness is published by Communities and Local Government.

The term worklessness describes the condition where a large number of people are excluded from the economy and work over long periods. Its causes differ from place to place, but it is often concentrated amongst disadvantaged groups and within local communities. Many people without work also experience multiple barriers to employment.

Local councils and strategic partnerships with the highest levels of worklessness have demonstrated that they can, and do, make a real difference. The gap between local authorities with the highest and lowest unemployment rates has narrowed significantly over the last sixteen years. Working Neighbourhoods Fund areas have accounted for 71 per cent of the reduction in Incapacity Benefit claimants in England since 2004. However, the recession now means that claimants are increasing at a faster rate in Working Neighbourhoods Fund areas.

The report expresses concern that one in ten people living in Working Neighbourhoods Fund areas are sick and disabled and claiming benefits, despite consistent investment and the existence of national and local targets to tackle concentrations of worklessness.

The report argues that local councils and their partners can and should be doing more. Central and local government will have to change how they plan and deliver services to workless people. Some of these changes are in hand but progress will need to be faster and planned together. The collective aim for local government and partners should be meeting the immediate needs of workless people but also planning for stronger local economies in the future.

Tackling Worklessness is available from DCLG. http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/1161160.pdf