Council tax rises hit Britain’s poor hardest

More than two million of the poorest people in England are facing rising council tax demands this year because of fresh government cuts to the benefit system, new figures have revealed. War widows, carers and the disabled are among 2.31 million people who used to be entitled to council tax benefit but have now had their support substantially reduced or taken away altogether.

As a result, significant numbers of families have been pushed into debt, with a survey revealing that nearly 16,000 people in London alone have been referred to the bailiffs for non-payment.

Youth Contract to be ended early

The coalition’s flagship programme to tackle youth unemployment is to be wound up early, amid claims that it has been an "abject failure". The £1bn youth contract wage incentive scheme was championed by Nick Clegg at the height of the recession as a way to help tackle youth unemployment. But with the jobs market rapidly improving and take-up of the programme falling substantially below projected levels, it is to be cut short next month.

Childcare provision is unsuitable for the modern labour market, finds research

Detailed analysis by Citizens Advice reveals that parents on low incomes or with unstable working hours are forced to rely on poorer quality childcare providers. The rise in self-employment and jobs with irregular hours means working parents will increasingly depend on flexible childcare. However the charity’s research shows those childcare providers most likely to offer variable hours have poorer Ofsted ratings and so will be of lower quality.

Health Management Ltd, a Maximus company, to deliver new Health and Work Service

Following a successful tendering exercise, Health Management Limited, a Maximus company has been appointed to deliver the new Health and Work Service in England and Wales. The Health and Work Service in Scotland will be delivered by the Scottish Government and will provide the same core service as delivered in England and Wales.

The Service will make health and work expertise and occupational health assessments more widely available to all GPs, employers and employees via: 

Apprentice growth in Greater Manchester dominated by older workers, study finds

Almost half of apprenticeships in Greater Manchester have been taken by adults in their thirties, forties and fifties – many of whom are likely to already be in jobs – rather than young people trying to get into work, a new study finds.

The report by New Economy – Greater Manchester’s economic think-tank and advisor on best policy practice – shows that adult apprentices over the age of 25 have grown from 2,472 in 2008/9 to 13,485 in 2012/13 (a rise of 446%).

Charities have a bigger role to play in welfare-to work-schemes, says NCVO

The way welfare-to-work schemes are designed and paid for needs a major overhaul, according to a report by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

The report argues that the Work Programme is not helping those with multiple or complex barriers, and voluntary organisations are well placed to provide support for those who are furthest from the labour market.

Government to update communications with benefit claimants on sanctions

The government is set to update the way it talks to benefit claimants, setting up a specialist team to look at all communications – including claimant letters – and working more closely with local authorities and advice centres to simplify the system.

Remploy beginning to seek private investment

Remploy Employment Services is now able to seek private investment enabling it to expand. By allowing Remploy to take on significant investment free from government control – as requested by the Remploy Board and as recommended by Liz Sayce in her recent review – they will have the freedom and flexibility to grow the business and help even more disabled people into jobs.

Beth Carruthers, Chief Executive of Remploy said:

New Jobcentre plus model proposed by thinktank Policy Exchange

DWP permanent secretary rejects Work Programme audit findings

Robert Devereux, permanent secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, has rejected the National Audit Office's conclusion that the Work Programme is no more effective than its predecessors.

The NAO report, called 'The Work Programme' and published on 2 July, said that the programme is “achieving similar levels of job outcomes to previous welfare-to-work programmes for Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants aged 25 and over.”

Beth Gardner succeeds Stephen Gardner as CEO of Fair Train

At the end of July 2014 Stephen Gardner will be standing down as CEO of Fair Train, to be succeeded by Beth Gardner (no relation!).

‘Flex appeal’: the benefits of flexible working explored in new report

Working on a temporary basis is part of many people’s career paths. More than one in three people (36%) in Great Britain have worked as a contractor, freelancer or agency worker at some point in their career, and 41% are considering working that way in the future, reports the REC.

UK jobcentres should face competition, says Policy Exchange

Jobcentres are failing to help about a third of their customers – mainly the long-term workless – and should be restructured to enable private companies and charities to compete with government providers, a report by the influential centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange has proposed.

Keep youngsters on job track, urges Wales Audit Office

Young people need to be kept on track in the search for jobs into their mid-twenties, a government auditor warns. A report into youngsters not in education, employment or training (NEET) said help for 19-24 year olds was not as good as for 16-18 year olds. The Wales Audit Office (WAO) urged the Welsh government to get the best value from £200m spent on NEETs in a year. Deputy skills minister Ken Skates said more work would be done to share best practice and track progress of schemes.

Young black men want to be judged on merit not stereotypes, says research

Research published by the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) reveals the views of 200 young black men about their experiences of finding work in the capital.

Young black men have a higher unemployment rate than any other group of young people and the research shows that they have mixed but mainly poor experiences of support from Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme providers. They also feel isolated from their peers and unsupported in their efforts to ‘do the right thing’.