The Effect of the Welfare Reform Bill on Job Clubs
I think that the Government should be commended for the introduction of the Welfare Reform Bill in the incredibly short time of 9 months which must reflect on Iain Duncan Smith’s in depth work on this key policy area whilst in opposition with colleagues at the Centre for Social Justice.
Gavin Poole CSJ Executive Director said “This Bill should be welcomed right across the political spectrum. The CSJ believes it offers a once in a generation opportunity to overhaul a dysfunctional and chaotic benefits system that locks people in poverty and stifles aspiration. Most people now recognise that work is the best route out of poverty, but this is a sign that the Government will turn its commitment into action.”
How then will this affect Job Clubs?
At present we only serve a small percentage of the unemployed in our communities but this will change as the pressure to work increases. We are distinct from JC+ and DWP contractors in that attendance is not nor ever should be compulsory. This Bill comes into force in 2013 but I expect we will see a mood change from JC+ in the way they handle claims far before this deadline. The pressure on the unemployed to find work will be immense and this is where Job Clubs can really help. We don’t set targets we are here to help one another, encouragement and empowerment are key to the success of any Job Club. The Welfare Reform Bill specifically the ‘Work Programme’ is likely to lead to an influx of many more members to Job Clubs.
Make no mistake job seeking will be tough in the next few years with a limited number of jobs available and an increasing number of earnest jobseekers. A Job Club needs to be the ’safe place’ where members can vent their spleen as well as build one another up to face the rigours of the journey.
Chris Neal 18th February 2011