Recruitment industry can be part of welfare reform discussion

The Department of Work and Pensions has this week unveiled a consultation on proposals to move away from fixed cash benefit system towards tailored support.
June 25, 2024
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The consultation, which will last for 12 weeks, comes as over 2.6m people of working age now receive Personal Independence Payment (PIP), with monthly new claims almost doubling since 2019.

Plans to make the disability benefits system fit for the future and overhaul the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach were published yesterday [Monday 29 April], following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s speech setting out the government’s wide-ranging ambitions for welfare reform.

“The Modernising Support Green Paper will explore how our welfare system could be redesigned to ensure people with disabilities and long-term health conditions get the support they need to achieve the best outcomes, with an approach that focuses support on those with the greatest needs and extra costs,” the government said in a statement.

“The UK’s health landscape has changed since PIP was introduced in 2013 with the intention that it would be a more sustainable benefit that would support disabled people to live independently by helping with the extra costs they face.”

However, the government said, the caseload and costs are now spiralling. There are now 2.6m people of working age claiming PIP and DLA (Disability Living Allowance) – with 33,000 new awards for PIP each month, which is more than double the rate before the pandemic. This is expected to cost the taxpayer £28bn a year by 2028/29 – a 110% increase in spending since 2019.

“This is in part fuelled by the rise in people receiving PIP for mental health conditions such as mixed anxiety and depressive disorders, with monthly awards doubling from 2,200 to 5,300 a month since 2019,” the government said.

Among the considerations to be looked at are whether some people could receive PIP without needing an assessment by basing entitlement on specific health conditions or disabilities supported by medical evidence.

This includes looking at whether evidence of a formal diagnosis by a medical expert should be a requirement to be assessed as eligible for PIP. “This will make it easier and quicker for people with severe or terminal conditions to get the vital support they need,” the government said.

The UK has used a fixed cash transfer system since the 1970s but the government cited a number of international systems that look at the specific extra costs people have and provide more tailored support instead.

For example, in New Zealand, the amount of Disability Allowance is based on a person’s extra costs, which are verified by a health practitioner. Norway’s Basic Benefit requires people to provide a letter from a GP outlining the nature of their condition and the associated extra costs.

“We are considering options including one-off grants to better help people with significant costs such as home adaptations or expensive equipment, as well as giving vouchers to contribute towards specific costs, or reimbursing claimants who provide receipts for purchases of aids, appliances or services.

“This reflects the fact that some claimants will have significant extra costs related to their disability, and others will have minimal or specific costs,” the government said.

Commenting on the Work and Pensions secretary Mel Stride’s plan for major welfare changes, REC deputy CEO Kate Shoesmith said: “Growth comes from a well-functioning labour market. A deeper discussion about welfare should be part of long overdue efforts by government to draw up a coherent and realistic workforce plan for the UK that helps overcome acute labour shortages in many sectors.

“But getting people well enough to work means providing them with a combination of a financial cushion when they aren’t well enough to look for or be in work, investing in the NHS and its staff to reduce waiting times for mental health treatment, together with the kind of talking therapy the government has outlined.

“Employers also have a key role to play in how they support their teams and new recruits. Recruiters frequently advise employers on the benefits and conditions that make them an attractive employer, and flexible working arrangements are often cited as the most important.

“Tougher sanctions regimes are only really going to work with the appropriate enhanced employment support that leads to more employment opportunities – not just a lower welfare bill. Evaluating and then building on public-private partnerships, like the Restart scheme, could help, and the recruitment industry stands ready to work with the policymakers on programmes that really help people achieve their potential in a changing labour market.”

The consultation – ‘Modernising support for independent living: the health and disability green paper’ – will be open for 12 weeks and views are invited from across society.

The findings of the consultation, which closes on Tuesday 23 July, will inform future reforms, the government said. In Wales, PIP is the responsibility of the UK Government. In Northern Ireland, PIP is transferred and is the responsibility of the Department for Communities. In Scotland, Adult Disability Payment (ADP) has replaced PIP and is the responsibility of the Scottish Government. The transfer of existing Scottish PIP claimants from DWP to Social Security Scotland started in summer 2022 and will continue until 2025.

Original Article: Recruiter

Empowering potential, connecting talent, transforming futures. For all your recruitment challenges – contact our HR & digital recruitment specialist Gareth Allison on 02920 620702

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