This report from the New Local Government Network argues that the UK should follow Australia and the US and introduce more flexible, locally tailored solutions to worklessness. It also argues that local authorities and their partners are best placed to understand local issues and how best to target certain areas of worklessness.
The author analysed the approach of Kent County Council in reducing local worklessness and found impressive and pioneering measures including the council setting an example as an employer, offering clear leadership on a welfare to work strategy and tackling areas of high unemployment by mapping out clear clusters and identifying the key issue affecting worklessness.
The report claims that whilst the Government has been able to reduce unemployment through its Pathways to Work programme, the centralised nature of it has limited the role of local councils and reduced the amount of local knowledge on key areas of deprivation and unemployment. Instead, the report advocates giving local councils a leading role in bringing together local partners to create a locally focussed Pathways scheme.
It also argues that local authorities should be given financial incentives to encourage local people back into work. It advocates that councils should be able to keep 50% of any benefit savings made as a result of getting someone back into work. It also calls for a longer-term pilot to examine the impact of devolving all welfare funding to a local authority level.
The report is available from NLGN. http://www.nlgn.org.uk/public/wp-content/uploads/the-local-journey-to-work.pdf