Report shows lower skilled workers face increasing difficulties to find a job

The European Commission has published the European Vacancy and Recruitment Report 2014, which found that low-skilled workers encounter increasing difficulties to find a job, face lower job stability and are out-competed by medium-skilled workers even in occupations with lower skills requirements. In contrast, job opportunities are growing in some high-skilled professions.

20 per cent of Brits fear being forced to leave their local area by housing costs

One in five Britons fear having to move out of their local area because of the high cost of housing, according to a new survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Ipsos MORI.

The online poll questioned adults aged 16-75 across Great Britain, and found that 20 per cent of people agree they might have to leave neighbourhoods because of soaring housing costs.

£20 million support for welfare reform claimants unspent

New figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that almost two-thirds, or 63 per cent of councils paid out less than their total Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) allocation to tenants, leaving £13.3 million left over. In addition, around three-quarters of councils did not apply for a £20 million government top-up fund to help claimants adjust to welfare changes, leaving a further £7.1 million unspent.

The new figures also revealed that:

Wonga chased debt with fake lawyers, says FCA

The UK’s largest payday lender, Wonga, must pay £2.6m in compensation after sending letters from non-existent law firms to customers in arrears between October 2008 and November 2010.

Universal Credit policy to expand to 90 jobcentres in North West England

The government's flagship welfare policy, Universal Credit, is to be introduced in 90 jobcentres in north-west England, Iain Duncan Smith says.

The work and pensions secretary told the BBC the change would apply only to single claimants, with couples and families joining at a later stage. But ministers have not set a target date for that to happen. The benefit is currently distributed at just 10 jobcentres, having been delayed a number of times since its creation.

Labour plans to offer government contracts to smaller organisations

Labour will mount an assault on big outsourcing companies if it wins the election, reducing their role in delivering the government’s back-to-work programme and exploring a plan to force them to pay all workers more than the minimum wage in exchange for Whitehall contracts.

The proposals are the latest plank in the party’s drive to end “business as usual” in the corporate world, and follow pledges to introduce an energy price freeze, rent controls, a mansion tax and a tighter cap on pension charges.

Hundreds of thousands hit by benefits backlog

The government has announced that hundreds of thousands of people have been hit by a benefits backlog, with more than 700,000 people waiting for an Employment Support Allowance (ESA) assessment.

Mike Penning, Minister for Disabled People, blamed the delays on Atos, the contractor that is carrying out controversial fitness-to-work tests. However, Atos has said its staff have been "vilified" and abused for doing what was asked of them by ministers.

New research shows councils in London fear housing crisis fuelled by welfare reform

Cuts to benefits have left families in London struggling and unsure how they will afford to stay living in their area, according to a new Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) report.

The report highlights that councils, advice services and parents share the same fear: a housing crisis uprooting families from their homes and communities, with children’s education facing huge disruption by these forced moves.

Poorest families will miss out on tax cuts promised by all three main parties

A report, published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), has warned that the lowest-paid working families will miss out on the tax cuts that will be promised by the main political parties at next year’s general election.

It argued that households which are better-off would benefit the most from plans being considered by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour to reduce income tax bills.

Half of homeless people lack reading and writing skills

New research by St Mungo’s Broadway and supported by NIACE has found that homeless people are being failed as children and adults when it comes to reading and writing.

The largest ever recorded survey of homeless people’s literacy and numeracy skills by direct assessment found that 51 per cent would not achieve GCSE grade D-G and lack the basic literacy skills needed for everyday life. This figure compares with one in six, or 15 per cent, of the general population who struggle to read.

“Time bomb” warning on migrant welfare cut

Sector experts are warning of a homelessness “time bomb” because increasing numbers of European migrants will lose their “transitional protection” for housing benefit over the coming months.

Thousands of people are at risk of losing their housing benefit as a result of government reforms that are being led by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, which removed housing benefit for all new EU claimants from April 2014.

DWP emphasises "fuller working lives" in revisiting Extending Working Lives strategy

The Department for Work and Pensions has published the Government’s new action plan on how they intend to help people have fuller working lives. Fuller Working Lives: a framework for action, explains the benefits of working longer for businesses, society and the economy, and considers how skills, workplace factors, financial security and incentives can help people stay in work longer.

Cuts may undermine work incentives in universal credit

A cross-party review of Universal Credit (UC) is being launched amid new evidence that funding for the project has been cut so severely that its original aim to provide incentives for people to get into work could be undermined.

The scheme, which has created deep cynicism as a result of technology flaws, implementation delays and Whitehall infighting, is due to be fully implemented in 2017-18 and will cover as many as eight million households.

Work Programme “failing those most in need and should be broken up”

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), have proposed that the £1.2bn Work Programme, the government's flagship welfare to work scheme, needs to be broken up in the face of figures showing that as little as 5 per cent of unemployed people on the main disability benefit are finding a job through it.

The think-tank’s Condition of Britain report looked at the social and economic problems facing the country and covered areas such as welfare, housing, childcare and improvements to social care, as well as handing more power to local councils.

Debate on House of Lords Report: Youth unemployment in the EU: a scarred generation?

The report ‘Youth unemployment in the EU: a scarred generation?’ from the House of Lords European Union Sub-Committee B (Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment) will be debated on Tuesday 17 June 2014 at approximately 7.30pm, depending on the running of the business of the House of Lords.

You may wish to watch the report being debated on Parliament TV here.