Reeves announces Labour plans for the Work Programme

In an interview with the Financial Times, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves outlined plans of a future Labour Government for the Work Programme, suggesting breaking down the contracts into smaller areas, probably around local authority boundaries, in an attempt to make the Programme more open to smaller providers who lack the necessary up-front investment to participate. Reeves went on to add that Labour is examining introducing the obligation for Government suppliers to pay their staff the living wage (£7.65/hour, £8.80 for London), which is significantly higher than the minimum wage (£6.31). Reeves added that the Party was examining the cost implications of this proposal.

The Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary also described a job creation scheme for the under-25s, modelled after the Welsh Jobs Growth Wales programme, a paid work experience scheme. Named “Jobs Guarantee” at the national level, the scheme would see the Government pay the minimum wage for six months on behalf of companies that take on an additional member of staff, either under-25 who has been out of work for more than a year, or over-25 who has been unemployed for more than two years.

 Elias From PSI:The proposals on the Work Programme outlined by Rachel Reeves echo those laid out by an IPPR report last week, which called for the Programme to be commissioned along Local Enterprise Partnership or Local Authority boundaries, as this better reflects the particularities of local labour markets. The Labour Party seems to be broadly in favour of the continuation of the Programme, with the main proposed change being breaking it down into more and smaller contracts.