Detailed analysis by Citizens Advice reveals that parents on low incomes or with unstable working hours are forced to rely on poorer quality childcare providers. The rise in self-employment and jobs with irregular hours means working parents will increasingly depend on flexible childcare. However the charity’s research shows those childcare providers most likely to offer variable hours have poorer Ofsted ratings and so will be of lower quality.
The coalition’s flagship programme to tackle youth unemployment is to be wound up early, amid claims that it has been an "abject failure". The £1bn youth contract wage incentive scheme was championed by Nick Clegg at the height of the recession as a way to help tackle youth unemployment. But with the jobs market rapidly improving and take-up of the programme falling substantially below projected levels, it is to be cut short next month.
More than two million of the poorest people in England are facing rising council tax demands this year because of fresh government cuts to the benefit system, new figures have revealed. War widows, carers and the disabled are among 2.31 million people who used to be entitled to council tax benefit but have now had their support substantially reduced or taken away altogether.
As a result, significant numbers of families have been pushed into debt, with a survey revealing that nearly 16,000 people in London alone have been referred to the bailiffs for non-payment.
The Bank of England has said that while the number of people in employment rose by almost 350,000 between March and April, average weekly earnings have fallen.
Officials said that wages may be falling because more people are working, including growing numbers of elderly people "concerned about the adequacy of retirement provisions".
They also suggested that the government's welfare reforms may mean that more longer-term unemployed people are coming onto the jobs market.
Systematic problems in the way the government administers and imposes benefit sanctions, including disproportionate burdens on the most vulnerable, are revealed in a report commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions.
The report found the way in which the DWP communicated with claimants was legalistic, unclear and confusing. The most vulnerable claimants were often left at a loss as to why benefits were stopped and frequently not informed by the DWP about hardship payments to which they were entitled, it said.
A “fundamental redesign” is needed of the disability benefits system, because flaws in the process are so “grave”, says a report published by the Work and Pensions Select Committee. The report argues that replacing Atos will not address the problems in the system, and urges ministers to take the withdrawal of Atos as an opportunity to fundamentally redesign Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
An extract from the report argues:
Policy Exchange has released a report outlining suggested changes to Jobcentre plus delivery model.
Robert Devereux, permanent secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, has rejected the National Audit Office's conclusion that the Work Programme is no more effective than its predecessors.
The NAO report, called 'The Work Programme' and published on 2 July, said that the programme is “achieving similar levels of job outcomes to previous welfare-to-work programmes for Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants aged 25 and over.”