Government must help not hinder people to find work

LAST Friday I held my annual Jobs Fair at the Parr Hall. Thanks again to all the companies that supported the event and job searchers who came along.

Although unemployment in Warrington has fallen by 30 per cent over the past five years, if you are one of the unlucky ones, your own rate is 100 per cent.

If I have learnt one thing from holding these fairs (and also my Saturday morning Jobs Club) it is that the vast majority of those out of work are really keen to get back into employment.

Of course everybody does not always get their ideal position but I really believe it is ‘easier to get a job when you have already got a job’.

Over the past six years, nearly 300 people have attended my Saturday Jobs Club and more than 85 per cent have returned to work or gone on to relevant training.

This represents a success, not for the club, but for those people who are motivated enough to come along on a Saturday morning. It has been a real pleasure to work with them.

The Government’s role needs to be to facilitate and encourage people to do the right thing, but too often we have made it harder. One example, has been the hugely complex benefits system which, in many instances, acts as a barrier to those trying to do the right thing.

That is why I’m really pleased that, from this week, we are now rolling out Universal Credit, which has been piloted in Warrington, across the whole country.

In broad terms this achieves two objectives:

  •  Replaces six different benefits with a single payment. This makes the system more understandable and removes contradictions as benefit entitlements can interact in unpredictable ways.
  •  Allows claimants to return to work without immediately losing benefits. For example, under the old system benefits could be withdrawn entirely after accepting just 16 hours of work.

Universal Credit represents a massive change but there is already evidence that it will work to properly incentivise people to do the right thing.

People want to work. The Government needs to help not hinder.

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