Theme: Public Policy

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Heads in the Sand: the Absence of Employers in New Developments in UK Active Labour Market Policy

Katy Jones


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Recent welfare reforms in the United Kingdom have redrawn the parameters of active labour market policy in a way that brings the employers' role to the fore. Universal Credit—the new benefit for working age social security recipients—is both an in- and out-of-work benefit. Significantly, and without international precedent, this brings workers on a low income within the scope of the Department for Work and Pensions' conditionality regime (in-work financial support was formerly provided through tax credits, without behavioural conditions). While conditions are applied to claimants, employer responses to this new policy terrain will be central to their outcomes as a new tripartite relationship between claimant, employer and the state emerges. However, employers and their views on these new expectations have been notably absent from both research and policy debates. This article reflects on why this is the case and why this is a problem for the development of effective in-work support.

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