The government has announced The Youth Employment Initiative, a new £170 million programme, which is designed to help young people, aged 15-24 into employment.
It has been announced that the Labour party would overhaul the controversial “work capability assessments”, if they are elected next May.
The party’s planned reforms aim to make the programme more flexible and sensitive to the needs of the disabled. Under the proposals, new contracts to run the tests would be much more closely tied to the accuracy of assessments and this will be measured by the number of times that decisions are overturned.
The Trussell Trust, the largest food bank provider in the UK, says it has handed out 913,000 food parcels in the last year, compared to 347,000 the year before.
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has reported a 60 per cent spike in people seeking advice about paying bills since the period that JSA is withheld was increased from one week to four weeks last December.
Northern Ireland’s Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, has announced further funding to support voluntary and community organisations that are committed to implementing new ways to increase benefit uptake.
A new report entitled Beyond the Barriers, which was entirely researched, written and supported by disabled people, aims to kick-start a significant new debate about the failure of sickness and disability support in the UK. Topics covered include what must be done to improve it and why, and how current systems should be re-designed so that all members of society can achieve their goals and aspirations.
The government has announced that from the end of April, migrant claimants will face a spoken English test in England - and if their language is found to be a barrier to looking for work, they will be expected to improve it. In addition to this, migrants will no longer have routine access to interpreters when they apply for Jobseeker's Allowance (with the exception of those who are deemed vulnerable and in need of support); and from July, jobseekers arriving in the UK will need to live in the country for three months before they can claim child benefit and child tax credit.
A new Work and Pensions Committee report has warned that there is a worrying uncertainty about the new Universal Credit (UC) IT system, which includes how it will work, how much it will cost and who will develop it.
Although National roll-out of UC was due to begin in October 2013, problems with IT systems meant that major changes to the implementation timetable were made twice in 2013. New claims are not expected to be extended to the whole of Great Britain until 2016; and the bulk of existing claimants will not move over to UC until 2016-17.