Government must focus on tackling the drivers of ill health instead of pushing people into ‘any job’


Image of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Responding to the Government's Back to Work Plan announced on 16 November 2023, Ben Harrison, Director of the Work Foundation at Lancaster University, said:

“At a time of record sickness levels and persistent worker shortages, the Government should be focussed on tackling the drivers of ill health, while supporting those with long-term conditions who want work to find a job that is right for them.

“Pushing people into ‘any job’ will not alleviate worker shortages that some sectors are facing. It is vital the Government’s offer provides adequate support some of the most vulnerable people in society into good quality, secure and long-term employment.

“The offer must focus on tailored support for jobseekers with different needs, and a renewed drive to work with employers to increase the quality of jobs on offer. Instead, threatening to revoke access to elements of NHS provision such as free prescriptions would represent a dangerous precedent and risk heightening the anxiety those who are unable to work due to ill health already feel.

“The Government’s previous proposals to pushpeople into ‘any job’ have not resulted in long-term results – and the Department for Work and Pensions’ own evidence from 2020 suggests sanctions are not effective and slow people’s progress back into work.”

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