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Likely concessions on welfare reform

The House of Lords defeated the Government on seven key elements of the Welfare Reform Bill; one of those elements include the proposal to cap out-of-work benefits at £26,000 per household.

In the Commons today, ministers aim to overturn the defeats and will table their own amendments to reinstate the original plans.

 

It is been reported that Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith is likely to offer “transitional arrangements” to help families who will be hit by the cap which may include a new fund to help pay the moving costs of any family that cannot afford to remain living in a large home once the £26,000-a-year limit is introduced…. the size of the home is really irrelevant; large or small, the cost of living and indeed accommodation is higher in certain parts of the country than in others..

IDS may also offer a “grace period” so that benefit claimants who have lost their jobs after years of contributing National Insurance payments through work will not immediately fall under the cap. but will be allowed to claim unlimited benefits for a period of time.

Naturally the Lib Dems are claiming that they are a stablising force reining in the excessess of the Conservative wing of the Coalition government.. Who Knows…

The Labour Party is planning to table its own proposals which is that the cap should be set a local level… consistent with the acknowledged regional variation in the cost of living and housing…. Even with this, Labour’s general position is far too unclear even confused

Labour will oppose the Government’s amendments and table its own rival proposals — for the cap to be set at a local level, reflecting the cost of housing in different parts of the country.

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I HAVE NOW RECEIVED THE STATEMENT

Here is the full statement by Chris Grayling MP:

Work Programme statement

Minister of State for Employment Chris Grayling said:
“We are committed to getting the unemployed back to work and that’s why we are taking swift action to get the Work Programme up and running”.

“The Work Programme will offer exciting opportunities for contractors from both the private and voluntary sectors to deliver the flexible and personalised support people need to get back to work, and I believe existing providers have a big role to play in this”.

    • WRITTEN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT

Thursday 10th June 2010


        • Progress towards the Work Programme
    • DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS

Minister for Employment, (Chris Grayling): The Government has previously announced its plans for radical reforms of the welfare to work system and the implementation of the Work Programme. The Work Programme will be a single integrated package of support providing personalised help for everyone who finds themselves out of work regardless of the benefit they claim.

This will give providers longer to work with individuals and greater freedom to decide the appropriate support for them.  We will also offer stronger incentives for providers to work with the harder to help, paying providers out of the additional benefits they realise as a result of placing people into work.

We are determined to move quickly and are aiming to have the Work Programme in place nationally by the summer of 2011.

Until the Work Programme is implemented, we will ensure support is in place. Where necessary, we will seek to extend current arrangements to ensure that there is no gap in provision and people can continue to receive help and support to get back into work.

Once the Work Programme is implemented it will supersede much of the complicated raft of national programmes currently on offer and these will be phased out. The support currently provided by programmes such as the Flexible New Deal will be folded into the Work Programme as soon as possible.

We are committed to supporting severely disabled people and are currently reviewing the best way of doing this.

The Government has today written to relevant providers and will be beginning one to one discussions with them to discuss what this means for them. We believe that the Work Programme will offer significant new opportunities for contractors from the private and voluntary sectors to deliver truly flexible and personalised support, building appropriate partnerships to do so. We recognise the crucial role that the voluntary sector in particular has to play in tackling worklessness, and our plans reflect this.

We will be publishing further details as the design and implementation of the Work Programme progresses.

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The government has been consistent!

However the termination of FND2 has sent Shock waves through the industry!!

5 year contracts are now ONLY AS  STRONG AS THE  TERMINATION PERIOD IN CONTRACTS!! this will have implications for investment in the sector.

PRIMES who have invested widely, deeply will be very annoyed!!!

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Welfare to Work announcement

Key:

  • The Work Programme will be introduced nationally by Summer 2011.
  • The vehicle for bringing the Work Programme into being and handling all work-focussed services  (and related commissioning) will be a new framework of preferred providers.
  • This framework, The Work Programme Framework, will be used for the Work Programme and for future Welfare to Work requirements and will be accessible by other public service commissioners wish to commission work-focussed services.
  • Selection on to the framework will be based on a provider’s ability and capacity to deliver job focussed services over the lifetime of the framework
  • The framework competition will commence at the end of June 2010, identifying framework providers by November and placing contracts in the first half of 2011.
  • There will be an event in July for providers interested in the framework
  • All current competitions are superseded.  There will be no fND2, Invest to Save, Personalised Employment Programme or Community Task Force.
  • fND1 providers are being given immediate twelve months notice of the end of fND1 contracts.
  • The intention is to achieve maximum continuity of service and to minimise disruption.
  • All fND1 providers are encouraged to bid in to the framework for a managed move on to the Work Programme.
  • There is no decision yet on Work Choice but there is a commitment to supporting disabled people.
  • No decision has yet been made about how Work for your Benefit will fit within the Work Programme.
  • Current New Deal, Pathways and EZ contracts will be extended in fND2 areas then will roll in to the Work Programme.

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The report “State of the Nation” was unveiled this morning.  It is a damning assessment of life in the UK. The Government will use it to inform policy decisions as it tackles poverty and worklessness

The Key points

  • almost one in ten people live in persistent poverty,
  • There are 800,000 more working age adults in poverty than in 1998/99
  • 1.4 million people in the UK have been on an out-of-work benefit for nine or more of the last 10 years
  • 670,000 households in the UK are eligible for benefits and tax credits of over £15,600 per year
  • health inequalities are higher now than they were in the 1970s
  • there remains a large gap in educational achievement between children from rich and poor backgrounds, with a 39 percentage point gap in gaining 5+ A*-C GCSEs between those living in the most and in the least deprived areas
  • 5.3 million people suffer from multiple disadvantages in the UK
  • people living in the poorest neighbourhoods will, on average, die seven years earlier than people living in the richest neighbourhoods

Against international comparisons the report concludes that income inequality in the UK is at its highest level since comparable statistics began in 1961.

In the UK, the proportion of children growing up in workless households, and the proportion of young people not in work, education or training, is higher than in almost any other European country.

Many have rightly concluded that we are in for a hard time as we pull ourselves out of the economic crisis, however this report suggests that for many they were already having a hard time ……..

...the credit crunch?

what credit crunch …? they have never had credit, they have always been poor, disadvantaged and left behind…

Have they have been failed by successive governments ……. or have they been failed by  providers…(?).

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There is no doubt that since 1997, New Labour has changed the language of politics and has indelibly changed the relationship between the citizen and the state. Under New Labour, there has been significant achievements, such as the National Minimum Wage; action on child poverty; investment in healthcare and education has yielded reduced NHS waiting lists; new educational facilities and record numbers of students going to university; help for pensioners; the creation of Sure Start; Tax Credits; and the 1.5 million people helped into work by the New Deal. Building on the work of John Major, we have achieved a peaceful solution to the Northern Ireland conflict. Britain has less crime and according to the British Crime Survey both violent crime and crime overall has reduced by 40% since 1997. Society has also become more tolerant and less discriminatory, aided by the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, Civil partnership and the Equalities Bill.

Despite all this, under Gordon Brown’s premiership, the Labour government has been plagued with problems on multiple fronts such as the row over the Lisbon Treaty; counter-terrorism legislation and  42 days pre-charge detention; removal of the 10% tax band; poor performances at the despatch box; the Damian MacBride incident; the stalled part-privatisation of Royal Mail; difficulties in Afghanistan; murmurings in the cabinet; the resignation of James Purnell and Hazel Blears; and the positioning by other Ministers have served to fuel continual leadership speculation. Bigger than all of these is the economic crisis which has overshadowed Gordon Brown’s premiership and has blighted his record as a successful Chancellor.  Today, New Labour is dogged by a prevailing atmosphere of pessimism, crisis, a lack of a coherent strategy and confusion about where it is going.

Yet it would be wrong to pretend that Labour’s woes started when Gordon Brown took over. Labour’s problems go back much further and deeper, than that.

New Labour came to victory in 1997 on a wave of high expectations and optimism and it has largely delivered. ‘Choice’ became the defining mantra in New Labour’s approach to public services. Yet after choice, what can the electorate expect? The focus on choice has built up expectations without addressing underlying issues of structures, powers and responsibility. Where choice has been ‘achieved’, in health and education, people have been left with the feeling that real problems are still there because choice in itself does not offer a compelling vision for the future. The electorate wants more than choice because it can see that choice has not lanced the boil of poverty; deprivation; homelessness; unemployment; community cohesion; and they are very dissatisfied with many aspects of British life.

It looks like New Labour is set to leave office with the electorate hugely disappointed. It is however not only this which has left many feeling disappointed. After the ‘sleaze’ of John Major’s government, many hoped that New Labour would herald in an era of a more honest, open and accountable politics. Instead, New Labour has been marred by a plethora of incidents such as the Hinduja and the Bernie Ecclestone affair, the lead up to and the war in Iraq – which at its very mildest has caused the electorate to harbour doubts and suspicion about the Government’s honesty and at its most extreme it may have destroyed people’s trust in the Government forever.

Labour’s reputation has been further damaged by the ‘cash for peerages’ scandal. Our ethical foreign policy has been on dubious ground, particularly in light of the furore over the release of the Libyan Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.’ Finally, the possibility that British security services have been complicit in the torture of terrorism suspects overseas raises questions about the promise of a new era of honest politics.

Whilst these are all very serious, all governments make mistakes which can have devastating effects. But what is the real problem with New Labour? The real problem with Labour is that there is an absence of leadership; and I am not referring to the leadership of Gordon Brown but to the abject failure of Labour MPs to lead. Despite the perception we are living in an era where backbench rebellions are at a post-war high.  When Labour MP’s had the opportunity to put a challenger forward for the leadership of the party they withered on the vine and failed spectacularly to offer the electorate or the party with a choice of candidates to succeed Tony Blair. Gordon Brown succeeded without being challenged; this was not Gordon’s fault!

It is little wonder that Labour MP Jon Cruddas recently expressed his dismay at how Labour seems to have meekly accepted the prospect of certain defeat, and to be doing next to nothing to prevent a Conservative government from walking into Downing Street. It is clear, Labour leaders are no longer leading!

Labour seems to have become paralysed by political inertia. In line with the theory of unripe time, nothing is done. My mentor, Charles Clarke showed great leadership and strength on the numerous occasions when he has stood out. However the resounding question is why didn’t he stand and why wasn’t there a proper contest?

It is worth noting that whilst Gordon Brown’s premiership seems to be characterised by a lack of leadership and purpose; remember; it takes more than one man to run a country and to deliver a message. In the spirit of collective responsibility, where Gordon is weak, his party and his cabinet should make him strong. The electorate’s trust in good government is becoming fatally undermined. In its hour of greatest need Labour needs to do something.

As anyone in business knows; perseverance and sheer grit is what’s needed when the going gets tough. The interesting thing is this; if all the members of the Government and all the Parliamentary Labour Party redoubled their efforts and worked for every vote, clarified their position on the economy, on health, on education and spoke in clear crystal tones – whilst they could still lose the general election – they would definitely give David Cameron a run for his money.

Maybe Gordon is a problem, but he definitely is not the whole problem.

Note to Editors:

Floyd Millen is the Director of the public affairs think tank yesMinister

  1. Floyd sits on the Council of the Hansard Society,
  2. Floyd sits on the SRB Board of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
  3. Mentored by the former Home Secretary RT Hon Charles Clarke MP
  4. Floyd is a former adviser to the Metropolitan Police Authority.
  5. Former council member of the Deaf Blind charity SENSE 2002-2006
  6. Obtained Masters Degree in Modern British Politics under the tutelage of the Conservative Peer Professor the Lord Norton of Louth.

To find out more information, visit www.yesminister.org.uk or www.floydmillen.co.uk

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