Work & Welfare

March 31, 2015 7:47 PM

More people are working in the UK today than ever before, including record numbers of women. Our economic plans have created more jobs than anyone forecast, and that means more opportunities for everyone to get on. But Liberal Democrats inherited a benefit system which trapped millions on out of work benefits with no hope or aspiration for a better life, because it simply didn't pay to work.

We have overseen the radical reform of our benefits system and are committed to finishing the job of simplifying it to make work pay. Universal Credit will ensure there is a more gradual withdrawal of benefits when someone enters work. Our plans to devolve back to work support will better connect job seekers to their local economies and help them find employment more quickly. We will continue to work with businesses to help them grow so there are opportunities for everyone, and improve wages and employment rights.

Record of delivery Promise of more
2m more jobs, the minimum wage rising faster than inflation and a crackdown on abusive "zero hour contracts" Raise the minimum wage without slowing job creation, and pay the Living Wage in the public sector where possible.
Kept welfare spending under control while blocking plans to cut off young people's benefits. Make sure it pays to work by rolling out Universal Credit, and invest in back-to-work and health support for those who need it.
99,000 jobs created or protected in England with our Regional Growth Fund. Connect up back-to-work support with local businesses to help more people into jobs.
Helped people balance work and family life with Shared Parental Leave and a right to request flexible working. Expand shared parental leave with a "use it or lose it" month for fathers and introduce a right to leave for carers.

Key Policies

1. Jobs and wages. We will ask the Low Pay Commission to look at ways of raising the National Minimum Wage as the economy grows without damaging employment opportunities. We will review the way the so-called "Living Wage" is set, with an ambition that it should be paid in the public sector wherever possible, including in all central government departments and agencies.

2. Reforming benefits. We will complete the introduction of Universal Credit to ensure people are always better off in employment. We will connect up local health services with back-to-work support to ensure people are getting the treatment they need - especially the hundreds of thousands suffering from anxiety and depression, who ought to be getting talking therapy. We will require new job seekers to take language lessons if they cannot speak a good level of English.

3. Improving back to work support. We will reform help for long-term unemployed people, working with the national governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and English local government. By devolving power and involving employers, help will be more tailored to local job opportunities.

4. Leave for parents and carers. We will expand Shared Parental Leave with an extra "use it or lose it" month for fathers to encourage them to take time off with young children. We will introduce an annual 'Carer's Bonus' worth £250 for those carers looking after someone for 35 hours or more each week, and we will consult on introducing five days' paid "care leave" for workers who are also full time carers.

We have fought tooth and nail to protect the most vulnerable. We stopped Conservative plans to scrap child benefit for ordinary families with more than two children, and to prevent the under-25s from getting housing benefit, even if they are in a low paid job. We've also led calls to reform the spare room subsidy so that people no longer have to pay more unless they have been given a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation and disabled people are allowed an extra room if they need it.

Youth unemployment is down. The number of young people on Jobseeker's Allowance is down by 250,000 since May 2010 . The youth contract has created over 250,000 work experience places.

KILLER FACTS

1. There are a RECORD 30.9 million people in work. Unemployment is down 596,000 since 2010, its now only 5.7%.[iii]
2. Last year's fall in women's unemployment is the largest on record.[iv]
3. The claimant count is now its lowest for 7 years and has fallen 384,000 since last year alone.[ii]
4. The average weekly wage is £457, which is growing at 1.7% each year faster than CPI inflation at 0.3%.[ii]
5. The National Minimum Wage increased this year to £6.70 an hour for over 21s, up from £6.50 last year.[v]

BASIC FACTS

1. The UK Living Wage is calculated at £7.85 an hour and £9.15 in London by the Living Wage Foundation.[vi]
2. 740,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed at the end of 2014, 188,000 fewer than the previous year.[ii]


[i] In England only

[ii] Largest quarterly rise in employment since records began Gov.uk

[iii] ONS labour market statistics February 2015

[iv] Record-breaking number of people in jobs Gov.uk

[v] PM and DPM announce increase in the National Minimum Wage Gov.uk

[vi] livingwage.org.uk What is the Living Wage