Work is the most effective route out of poverty, but for far too long, in some of Britain’s poorest communities worklessness has been passed from generation to generation like a family business. Failure of people to remain in employment is largely attributed to a lack of back-to-work support, a national skills shortage, the impersonal approach by Jobcentre Plus advisers in helping people secure long-term, meaningful employment, and little expectation for businesses to take responsibility.
Since the coalition government unveiled its systemic welfare reform programme in 2013, significant progress has been made in recognising that employment must always reward people who are able to work. This reform, that includes the Universal Credit system and a radical new Work Programme, was pioneered by the Centre for Social Justice in reports such as Breakthrough Britain and Dynamic Benefits. Additionally, in response to recommendations made by the Centre for Social Justice in its 2015 Tackling Low Pay report, the government has continued to create incentives to work by introducing the ‘National Living Wage’, the highest minimum wage on record. Despite this progress, significant welfare challenges remain.