Home More News Benefit Cuts Don't Encourage The Unemployed Into Work - Research

Benefit Cuts Don’t Encourage The Unemployed Into Work – Research

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Controversial and hard-hitting reforms to the benefits system are failing in their objective of encouraging the unemployed into work, according to new research.

A report published by the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee has found “little support for the view that welfare reform is having important and positive impacts on the labour market in Scotland”.

The reforms are estimated to take £1.5bn out of the Scottish economy, equivalent to £440 a year for every adult of working age, as evidenced in previous research for the Committee.

The research was conducted for the Committee by Christina Beatty and Steve Forthergill of Sheffield Hallam University and Donald Houston of the University of Glasgow. It sets out detailed analysis of the link between employment figures and the various welfare reforms.

Michael McMahon MSP, Convener of the Welfare Reform Committee, said:

“This research presents firm evidence that welfare reforms are not working. Thousands of people in Scotland have faced upheaval in their lives as a result of these changes, yet they are not leading to more people entering the job market.

“Just as our Committee has already heard from witnesses, the report also shows that people are fighting on several fronts to make ends meet as they are hit by cuts to multiple benefits. This tallies with research we published earlier this year that concluded that parents and people with disabilities were being hit hardest by welfare reform.”

The report also argues that it is economic recovery, in the form of improved consumer spending and higher borrowing, that has contributed to higher employment levels (and reduced numbers of unemployed people in Scotland), rather than welfare reform.

Larger than average reductions in unemployment in the places hit hardest by welfare reform also happened in previous economic upturns. This makes it impossible to attribute recent trends to welfare reform.

Mr McMahon continued: “The most deprived areas of the country are contributing the most savings to the welfare budget. Yet rather than this shining a spotlight on the success of welfare reform it only serves to highlight that these areas are losing out financially against other, better-off parts of the country.”

Evidence was based on the impact of reforms introduced before 2015, however the report considers the likely impact of the £12bn of further welfare cuts recently announced by Chancellor, George Osbourne MP.

It concludes that it is hard to see this new round of reductions having any greater impact on the labour market. Given that reductions to tax credits account for around half the additional planned saving, and that a large proportion of these cuts falls on in-work claimants, a reduction in the numbers on out-of-work benefits seems even less likely as a result of the new round of welfare reforms.

Professor Fothergill said: “This research delivers a severe blow to the Westminster government claims about the positive impact of welfare reforms on the labour market, not just in Scotland but potentially across the rest of the UK as well.”

Source: Scottish Parliament – published here under The Scottish Parliament Open License (version 2).


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  1. The “welfare reforms” to our Social Security (as it used to be called) are about cutting the amount that is spent on supporting the poor or vulnerable. The “getting more people into work” rhetoric is purely the justification, for both the government and those who vote for them.

  2. If you remember Leon, IDS and others claimed welfare reforms were getting people back into work like the bedroom tax and sanctioning to name but two. It later transpired this year that the majority of jobs they stated they had created actually went to immigrants and those already in work.

    The longterm and or disabled unemployed claimants are often consistently ignored when applying for work yet this government will state like labour did about ageism that it doesn’t exist. Employers are the biggest barrier to work yet this government wants the public and even claimant to believe its the unemployed applicant who has the hurdles that keep them from gainful employment.

    My post is about governments continuous lie that is the reforms are working and not in anyway anything to do with our current global immigrant crisis which is born out of the Wests passion for instability and the inherent and inevitable problem that free market capitalism causes.

  3. Why do we still talk about getting a job like it was a tin of beans anyone can take of a shelf. Employers decide who they hire, not the prospective applicant.

    The government statement that claimants need to be encouraged is outright preposterous as DWP fully vet each and every claimants job applications every week or fortnight so know first hand that its not through a lack of effort.

    When is this government going to tackle the biggest barrier to work, namely the employer and there unrealistic whims instead of relying on immigrants and people already in work looking to move to they hope more secure employment to mask the true labour force market picture ?


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