The government have today published a consultation green paper outlining its latest proposals for reform of the benefits and welfare system.
The paper is inspired by the proposals made last year by city merchant banker David Freud. He urged a massive expansion of the role of the private and voluntary sectors in delivering core Jobcentre Plus services.
‘Right to bid’
Members will be particularly concerned about the proposal in the green paper to give private and voluntary sector providers the ‘right to bid’ for any back-to work service provided by Jobcentre Plus. This effectively puts thousands of PCS members’ jobs up for sale to any company that fancies taking over our work.
PCS condemns privatisation
PCS condemns these proposals to outsource even more of the work of Jobcentre Plus. The threat of more privatisation will cause members to fear for the future of their jobs.
Praise for Jobcentre Plus
The green paper correctly says that “Jobcentre Plus is recognised as one of the best back to work agencies in the world.” PCS welcomes this statement but we are at a loss to understand why the government should then go on to invite any company to take over Jobcentre Plus work when Jobcentre Plus has “a superb record” of delivering back to work support.
PCS will continue to urge the government to rethink its policy of privatisation. We have recently written to the secretary of state to request a meeting with him about his privatisation proposals and to seek assurances on the future of Jobcentre Plus as a public service.
Tougher regime for unemployed
The green paper also outlines proposals for several major changes to the benefit system. These include:
• Making long term jobless work full time to receive benefits.
• Moving all incapacity benefit claimants onto ESA, medically reassessing them and making them use privatised back to work support.
• Remove benefits from drug users who refuse help for addiction
• Tougher sanctions for failing to try and get a job
• Abolish income support, moving all IS cases onto JSA or ESA
• Lone parents to keep all child support payments
PCS will be producing a detailed response to the green paper and seeking further information on what these proposals may mean for our members.