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'Councils key to reducing unemployment'

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Devolving welfare-to-work policy to a local government level will be key to the government achieving its target of 80% of people in employment, the New Local Government Network (NLGN) has claimed.

The NLGN analysed the approach of Kent CC in reducing local worklessness. Kent set an example as an employer by offering clear leadership on a welfare-to-work strategy. It also tackled areas of high unemployment by mapping out clear clusters and identifying the key issue affecting worklessness.

In its report the think tank argues:

  • The UK should follow Australia and the US and introduce more flexible, locally-tailored solutions to worklessness

  • Councils and their partners are best placed to understand local issues and how best to target certain areas of worklessness

The report argues that while the government has been able to reduce unemployment through its pathways to work programme, the centralised nature of it has limited the role of local councils and reduced the amount of local knowledge on key areas of deprivation and unemployment.

Incentives

The report also says councils should be given a financial incentive to encourage people back into work by allowing them to keep half of the savings made as a result of getting a person back into work.

In response to the report, work and pensions minister James Plaskitt said: "To make further progress in tackling worklessness we need strong, imaginative and innovative partnerships with local authorities and other local agencies."

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