14 January 2015

Irish "DWP" DO have an idea if Workfare costs jobs or not

I wrote last year about the DWP having no idea if Workfare costs jobs or not and I'm interested to find that their Irish equivalents, the Department of Social Protection were somewhat more responsible. They got Indecon International Economic Consultants to do a report - and published it

The Irish scheme is called JobBridge and typically offers the unemployed a 6-9 months "internship" for which they get €50 on top of their welfare payment each week.

The report actually looked for and documented cases where the scheme could have displaced paid employment. Some snippets from the somewhat dryly named section "6.1.5 Scheme deadweight and displacement" include:
  • 6.4% (of employers) indicated that they would have taken on paid employees in the absence of the scheme
  • It is also notable that the proportion of host organisations who indicated that they would have been highly likely to have offered paid employment to JobBridge interns in the absence of the scheme rises to 10.3% among large organisations employing 250 persons or more
  • Indecon also understands, based on information supplied by the Department of Social Protection, that a total of forty cases of suspected displacement were investigated by the Department since July 2011. Following investigation, it was found that these allegations were substantiated in four distinct cases and action was taken to disqualify these companies from participating in JobBridge.
That last item is particularly impressive - the Department of Social Protection were alive to the risk, investigated, took action and allowed publication.

My original FOI showed that DWP had done nothing like this. It's possible that a second FOI request that's in progress will yield better results. Update 02 February 2015: No, it didn't :-(

6 January 2015

Does the Bedroom Tax help people get into work?

Readers may remember my work on the idea that the Benefit Cap helped people get work and may be interested in whether other controversial  "Welfare Reform" policies increase employment?

The "Bedroom Tax" is one such policy and I'm grateful to Trudy Baddams for asking how many people has the DWP helped into work by introducing the bedroom tax

The answer was essentailly:

The information requested is not available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However one of the aims of the evaluation of the Removal of the Spare Room subsidy (RSRS) is to assess the extent to which, as a result of the RSRS, more people are in work, working increased hours or earning increased income. The Interim Report of this evaluation found that 18 per cent  of affected claimants had either looked for employment, or looked to earn more though employment-related income as a result of the RSRS. The final report of the RSRS evaluation will be published in late 2015.

 The Interim Report does indeed show affected people looking for work (or more hours/better pay) but also:

"Our survey found, however, that most (87 per cent) of those claimants who said they
have looked for work also said they that, in the first six months since RSRS had been
implemented, they had not been able to find work or secure better paid employment.

From the qualitative work with claimants, most participants who were able to work had
considered earning more through starting work – although this was not solely in response
to the reforms, rather that they had been hoping to do so anyway. Those who reported that
they were looking for extra hours or a better paid job more often reported that this was in
response to the policy."

So it doesn't look like the policy is actually getting people work.