Welfare to Work

What the Professor said!

Prof. Paul Gregg who advised the last Government wants the Coalition Government to postpone the reforms he helped to design.  Paul Gregg, a Bristol University academic, says that it would be “scary” to move up to 2.5 million incapacity benefit (IB) claimants on to the new employment and support allowance (ESA) in October.  All new claimants have had to apply for ESA, which includes a work capability test, since October 2008.  The benefit is essentially a payment of last resort for those who are genuinely incapable of working.


James Purnell commissioned Paul Gregg’s review in July to examine the effectiveness of conditionality within the welfare state to apply rules fairly across the system.

Professor Gregg’s report, Realising Potential, looked at the requirements placed on the unemployed and called for a new attitude to parents with young children and those on incapacity benefit who could work in the future.

It recommended that a long-time vision for personalised conditionality and support is required for three broad groups of benefit claimants:

•        A Work-Ready group – these are customers who are claiming Jobseekers Allowance and are assessed as being immediately ‘job ready’ and should be able to make a prompt return to work

•       A Progression to Work group – for people where an immediate return to work is not appropriate – but would be possible in time

•        A No Conditionality group –  where no conditionality whatsoever will be applied – because it is not appropriate as they either have a particular severe health condition or disability, or they are a carer or a lone parent with their youngest child under the age of one.

The review recognises conditionality as an effective way of improving employment rates and reducing child poverty. It recommended that nearly everyone on benefits should be required to take steps towards finding employment; with claimants treated as individuals, and empowered to design their own route back to work.

Professor Gregg recommends making sanctions quicker, clearer and more effective with a simple and understandable system of fixed penalties for most occasions with a targeted, escalating series of sanctions for repeat offenders who refuse to play by the rules.

THE REPORT: Realising Potential


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