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Welfare to What? How can we improve the employment prospects of the UK's lowest earners?

Monday, 07 March 2011
08:30 - 10:30
The Work Foundation



  • Adam Sharples, Director General- Employment, Department for Work and Pensions
  • Ian Brinkley, Director of Socio-economic Programmes, The Work Foundation


Following the launch of the first report from The Work Foundation’s Bottom Ten Million two-year research programme, this roundtable event provided delegates with a unique opportunity to discuss the findings of Welfare to What? and asked how we could improve the employment prospects of the UK’s lowest earners.

In the UK, there is a still long ‘tail’ of low skill, low wage employment and there are an estimated ten million people earning less than £15,000 per annum. Job entry alone is not a sufficient outcome if the government are to succeed in significantly reducing poverty and increasing individuals’ social mobility. Ongoing economic restructuring has led to an increase in low skill, low paid, insecure employment in some areas. Spatial wage inequalities have been very persistent, if not widening, over time. In some parts of the UK, including Blackpool, Grimsby and Hull, around a third of residents earn less than £7 per hour.

The success of the Coalition’s supply side reforms in reducing worklessness and poverty will be determined by the scale, quality and distribution of employment opportunities in the recovery and how these new jobs match the skills, experience and location of those looking for work.

Questions covered included:

  • What are the major labour market challenges for the UK going forward into the recovery? How do these vary across the country?
  • What measures might be used in parallel with the National Minimum Wage and working tax credits to combat in-work poverty?
  • How might the Coalition’s policies impact on in-work poverty?
  • What is the role for policy makers in improving the performance of low wage businesses?
  • What is the most effective way of addressing spatial disparities in the labour market?

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