Press, Welfare to Work

– Iain Duncan Smith looks to Germany for inspiration

Iain Duncan Smith the Work and Pensions Secretary, is looking at a radical scheme to change the lifestyles of families in which nobody of working age has ever had a job by improving their basic skills.

Iain Duncan Smith is examining a German approach where long-term unemployed families have been encouraged to create a “household culture” with trips to the cinema and evening classes.

The family will be the centrepiece of the Coalitions welfare reforms

IDS has been promoting the “family futures” scheme, pioneered in a town near Dusseldorf, where 1,661 households had three or more individuals who were long-term unemployed.

The welfare cost to the German exchequer was €31m (£25m) a year – and the plan to focus on families brought the bill down by one-third.

The scheme was designed by Maximilien Dorostian; European Director for A4E welfare to Work.

Parents had lost the “working habit” and fear losing housing support or seeing income cut if they got a job. The younger adults often had issues with figures of authority and unrealistic expectations.

The younger members think they should all be the boss in an office with people working for them. It’s because they have never worked and never interacted with people,” he said. “We have to give them this habit so they can have realistic expectations of work.”


The savings were dramatic despite the initial costs being double those of the scheme targeting unemployed individuals.

By cutting workless households by one-third, the German taxpayer saved €10m a year

One of the drawbacks is that money needs to be spent now to save the Treasury cash later.

The chancellor, George Osborne, has a simple formula for the Department of Work and Pensions – officials must find £5 of savings for every £1 they spend reforming the benefits system.

Using that logic, £800m would be made available if Duncan Smith could find an extra £4bn in welfare cuts demanded by the chancellor this week.

The Guardian

See our previous blog

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