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CSJ sets out programme for transforming job centres

Charities and private companies should play a bigger role in helping unemployed people find work as job centres are not doing enough, a new Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) report has said.

The research uncovered room for improvement within the UK’s Jobcentre Plus (JCP) network and highlighted how 'churn' in the system creates a cycle where people regularly move in and out of unstable work.

The report, Up to the Job? reveals that claimants can lack an up-to-date CV despite spending months with the JCP. It also shows that 40 per cent of claimants who move off Jobseeker's Allowance make another benefits claim within just six months.

The CSJ said JCP, which costs taxpayers £1.4 billion a year, focuses too much on arranging claimants’ benefits rather than identifying the factors preventing them from finding and keeping a job.

The current JCP measure looks at how quickly people stop claiming benefits - instead it should look at how many people move into sustainable work, the report said.

The report was featured as the lead story on BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat and the CSJ took part in interviews with BBC 5 Live Breakfast and with more than 10 BBC regional radio stations. Read coverage of the report on BBC online, Telegraph and Herald.

In its recommendations, the CSJ said the JCP network should be remodelled along the lines of the market-based Australian system, which has proved a world leader in getting people back into work. Australia’s mainstream employment services are delivered by over 100 profit-making and non-profit providers on a payment-by-results model. This has helped achieve the highest employment rate amongst G20 countries.

CSJ Director, Christian Guy, said: “We need a radical new approach if we want to transform lives and tackle worklessness. Innovative charities and private firms should be allowed to assist jobseekers who are crying out for help.”

He added: “The Government’s Universal Credit reforms, which were designed at the CSJ, will shake-up our broken welfare system and make sure that work is worthwhile for people.

“But that must only be phase one of the reforms. The next stage needs to be a revolution in how we offer support to those trying to get back into work.”

Poverty-fighting charities descend on Westminster for CSJ conference

Charities must be at the heart of moves to revolutionise Britain’s welfare system so that it acts as a springboard out of poverty, Big Issue founder and social entrepreneur John Bird told a major CSJ event last week.

He was speaking to more than 150 voluntary sector organisations at the CSJ Alliance conference.

The audience also heard from the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP, who said one of the main reasons Britain was coping with the economic downturn was its vibrant voluntary sector.

The annual conference is held to celebrate the work of the CSJ Alliance, a group of more than 350 charities and voluntary groups tackling social breakdown across the UK.

Other speakers at the event included charity campaigner Dame Julia Cleverdon, investment manager Nicola Wagner-Rundell and Jo Rice from the London-based charity Spear.

Click here to view photographs of the event.

Government must do more to promote marriage as a social justice priority

The CSJ has been at the centre of the debate on family breakdown after it was revealed most children will soon be born to unmarried couples.

Figures published this week show the proportion of children born to unmarried mothers hit a record 47.5 per cent last year. If current trends continue, the majority of children will be born to parents who are not married by 2016.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Christian Guy said marriage is a social justice issue and should be promoted by government. The CSJ has pointed out that the number of people cohabiting has doubled to nearly six million since 1996.

Cohabiting parents are three times more likely to separate by the time a child is aged five than married couples, research has shown. Evidence has also indicated that a child not growing up in a two-parent household is 75 per cent more likely to fail at school and 35 per cent more likely to experience worklessness.

The CSJ was also quoted in the Daily Express and took part in almost 10 BBC regional interviews and re-issued its call for the Government to implement a transferable tax allowance for married couples with children under three. The Government has said it will soon introduce a transferable tax allowance of £750 between spouses and civil partners – but the CSJ insists this does not go far enough.

The CSJ has produced numerous reports on family policy, including: Fractured Families, Forgotten Families? Transforming Childcare, Changing Lives as well as a Green Paper and the landmark Family Breakdown chapter of Breakthrough Britain.

CSJ named winner at prestigious think tank awards

The CSJ was named Social Policy Think Tank of the Year at the Prospect awards last month.

Judges congratulated the CSJ for research it had done on modern slavery and child poverty and for its design of the Coalition’s landmark welfare reform, Universal Credit.

In the last year the CSJ has published research on a range of social policy issues, including: gangs, family breakdown, worklessness, domestic abuse, childcare and social care.

A full list of winners is available here.