In these tough economic times unemployed people need more help than ever to get and stay in work. We have seen first-hand the positive benefits people gain from being in work, volunteering or taking part in a work-experience placement – becoming part of a community where you are building your confidence, job skills, and discovering new things about yourself.
Some of our local centres have accepted people on mandatory work activity (MWA) short term placements from independent welfare to work providers. We’ve found, whether on MWA or a standard short term work-experience placement, that people benefit from gaining work experience, a recent reference and in gaining confidence - and they also help their local community.
However, we feel that a 26-week work experience placement is too long and would not be beneficial. If someone has not found employment within two years, the lack of work experience is clearly not their only barrier to employment. Our concern is that the underlying issues need to be dealt with holistically and work experience is a part of the support needed. As such, we are not taking part in the Community Work Placement programme.
We work with people to get them back on their feet with a worthwhile job and a decent home. But for some people sanctions are getting in the way. Our church and community centres are meeting people in crisis who need help with everyday essentials. Our centres for Homeless people are finding landlords don’t want to take on tenants with a sanction. Our Employment Plus centres are finding that some Job Centres will have a discussion about clients with a sanction and others won’t.
We submitted evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry into Benefit Sanctions. We agreed publicly with their conclusion that a review of the current system of benefit sanctions is needed. We call upon the next government to pick up that recommendation.