Published by Nick Bell, Chief Executive, Prospects Group on 6 October 2016
- Our Work
- The Reformer Blog
6 October 2016
Over the last six years we have made great strides towards creating an economy that delivers for all. Our welfare reforms have promoted work, giving everyone the opportunity to benefit from the dignity of a job. The National Living Wage and the raising of the income tax personal allowance ensure that those in work can take home a decent salary. There are over 2.5 million more people in work compared to 2010, income inequality has fallen, and 300,000 fewer people are now living on relative low income.
Despite all of this there is still more we must do. As June’s referendum reminded us, not everyone feels they have benefited fully from the progress we have made. Whether they are struggling to find work or to increase their earnings, too many people do not feel that they have control over their lives and their futures. A hands-off response to this situation would clearly not suffice – as the Prime Minister has set out, this Government is committed to making sure the economy works for everyone, whatever their starting point and whatever their aspirations.
To achieve this we must do three things. First, we must remove those barriers that push people out of the labour market, or prevent them from entering it in the first place. As we set out in our manifesto, everyone should be able to enjoy the satisfaction and rewards of a decent job, regardless of whether they are an older worker who needs new skills, a mother with caring responsibilities, a member of an ethnic minority, a school leaver with no work experience, or someone with a health condition or disability. This remains our priority, and is one we have already begun to deliver on with the announcement of our forthcoming Work and Health Green Paper, and the roll out of the Youth Obligation in 2017. Together these will help remove key barriers for those with health conditions and young people struggling to move into work.
Secondly, we must continue the benefit reforms we have introduced which promote work and support people to increase their earnings. Universal Credit has already begun to transform the welfare system by ensuring that work pays more than a life on benefits and that all claimants receive personalised support. Now, for the first time, we are also supporting claimants who are in low paid work to increase their earnings and progress in their careers. This is a radical new approach and one which the Work and Pensions Select Committee have described as ground-breaking.
Finally, I believe we must now turn our attention to ensuring that everyone is given a fair chance to achieve their fullest potential once they are in the labour market. This means working with employers to ensure progression opportunities are extended in sectors like care, retail, and hospitality. It means ensuring that those working in the ‘platform economy’ are paid fairly and have appropriate protections. And it means providing support to the low income self-employed so they can develop their business and improve their earnings potential.
These challenges are large and complex but with a strong labour market and the roll out of Universal Credit we have a unique opportunity to tackle them. It may seem a daunting task, but with the support of employers and the commitment across government I am confident we can help deliver a career for all.
Damian Hinds MP, Minister of State for Employment