Select Committee on Work and Pensions Eighth Report

1  Introduction

1. In July 2007 the Government published two documents: a Green Paper, In work, better off: next steps to full employment,[1] setting out the next stages of its plans for welfare reform; and World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England.[2] These documents are not mutually exclusive. They set out the Government's plans to improve the co-ordination of employment and skills policies so that people who are low-skilled and out of work have a better chance of finding and keeping employment.

2. This report examines these two key policy statements, assessing the DWP's plans for future reform and how the Department will fulfil its role in improving the skill levels of people entering work. It draws heavily on a series of inquiries which we have made into matters related to welfare reform, on The Efficiency Savings Programme in Jobcentre Plus,[3] Incapacity Benefits and Pathways to Work,[4] the Government's Employment Strategy[5] and Benefits Simplification.[6]

3. We also took oral evidence from Caroline Flint MP, newly appointed Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform (which is printed with this report) and the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Rt Hon Peter Hain MP,[7] immediately before the summer recess.

4. We welcome the In work, better off Green Paper but are disappointed that it does not cover the breadth of issues we had anticipated. For example, there is no response to David Freud's proposals for benefit reform and no exploration of the impact the proposals might have on lone parents with disabled children.

5. We have advocated the introduction of a more personalised programme of support for jobseekers, following the principles of Building on New Deal, in a number of our reports and so the announcement of a new, flexible New Deal is encouraging. However, we urge DWP to ensure that the combined strategies are coherent and transparent for customers, staff and contractors alike.

1   Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Cm 7130, July 2007 Back

2   Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), Cm 7181, July 2007 Back

3   Second Report of Session 2005-06, HC 834-I Back

4   Third Report of Session 2005-06, HC 616-I Back

5   Third Report of Session 2006-07, HC 63-I Back

6   Seventh Report of Session 2006-07, HC 463-I Back

7   Oral evidence taken before the Committee on 25 July 2007, HC (2006-07) 940-i Back

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Prepared 30 October 2007