Committee of Public Accounts Press Notice

NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE: SUSTAINABLE EMPLOYMENT: SUPPORTING PEOPLE TO STAY IN WORK AND ADVANCE

A statement from Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts:

Forty per cent of people who leave Jobseeker’s Allowance to enter employment are back on benefits within six months. This seesaw of benefits and short-term employment is devastating for an individual’s morale and can damage the wellbeing of a family and particularly of children who grow up in that environment.

It is shattering to realize that the percentage of people looking for jobs who make repeat claims for benefits has remained unchanged since the early 1980s. 

DWP have worked hard to introduce programmes which get people into work and have made progress in certain respects. But there is plenty to do and, DWP need to work with DIUS so that people get the skills they need to stay at work and to progress.

The DWP considers someone being in sustainable employment once they’ve been in post for 13 weeks: this short-sighted view doesn’t convince me that the department have really got to grips with the issue they face.  I welcome the fact that they are reassessing this, which is an important, if somewhat overdue, move.

Halving the time that repeat benefit claimants spend on Jobseeker’s Allowance would save the taxpayer over half a billion pounds a year; and a 20 per cent reduction in the number of lone parents leaving their jobs would lift 44,000 children out of poverty. That is a big prize. And my Committee will be supportive if the DWP and DIUS can get this right.

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