From the TUC

James Purnell’s Welfare Reform Bill

05 Jun 2009, by in Labour market, Society & Welfare

With James Purnell’s leaving the Government, there is an opportunity to sit back and think about the Welfare Reform Bill. Will Yvette Cooper, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions keep up the pressure for this legislation?

Let’s hope she listens to what unions and dozens of campaign organisations are saying about the Bill:

  • ‘Work for your benefit’ pilots – compulsory work-experience schemes for long-term unemployed people. The more work experience resembles real work the more it demands real pay; anything else is unfair to unemployed people – they are the victims in the economic tragedy, but they are being treated like criminals.
  • The ‘personalised conditionality’ regime for parents of young children, backed up by tougher benefit sanctions will necessarily lead to increased hardship in vulnerable families.
  • Abolition of the adult dependency supplements to Maternity Allowance and the tightened contribution conditions for eligibility to contributory ESA and JSA will further reduce the scope of National Insurance and force more claimants into means-testing.
  • Contracting-out Jobcentre Plus services, despite the lack of any evidence that private organisations will perform any better than the public sector.

In the past ten years, no social security legislation has aroused as much concern among union members. That is why the next TUC Social Policy Forum will be entirely devoted to the Welfare Reform Bill. The Forum will take place at Congress House at 10.30 on Friday 3 July. Places are free, and you can register online: visit

One Response to James Purnell’s Welfare Reform Bill

  1. Ipswich Unemployed Action
    Jul 15th 2009, 9:04 am

    Good article.

    Some points I would like to add for readers:

    “long term unemployed” means 6 months or more claiming JSA and not the several years it implies. 6 months is a long time without a job, especially on such low income, however, in this economic climate where so many people are chasing such a few jobs this is happening.

    The intention for contracting out the Jobcentre Services seem to be the first step of placing welfare services in the private sector. Why? Simple, there will always be a DWP who would award contracts, pay out millions of taxpayers money a week; however Jobcentre Plus would become a franchise.

    The benefits are:

    * Exempt from Freedom of Information Act – procedures etc. can stay more secret, as private businesses are not required to comply (only public sector)

    * Less financial transparency – accounts are consolidated; House of Commons and MP’s would have no right to question regarding expenditure

    * Exempt from Human Rights Act 1998 – this only applies to the public sector, private businesses are exempt.

    * Reduction of cabinets responsibility and accountability – will be limited to awarding contracts and not the overall services provided.

    (see for more on this)

    I hope this helps :)