This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Findings are published today from a qualitative study looking at the early effects of the 2008/9 economic downturn on the welfare to work system in deprived areas. The research was carried out by the Policy Research Institute, Leeds Metropolitan University on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. Fieldwork took place during Spring 2009 and all findings refer to that time period. The study was intended to ensure an effective policy response in the event of a future downturn.
Findings from the study show that:
The deprived areas considered seemed to be sheltered from the early effects of the downturn but respondents felt that such areas may be more vulnerable to anticipated changes in public spending.
The welfare to work system, especially at a local level, appears to be better structured to cope than in previous recessions and local partnership structures enabled rapid and integrated responses to the changing labour market at the local level.
Although the previous government put in place a number of policy initiatives in response to the downturn, some respondents lacked awareness of the full range of support available and suggested that the range of initiatives available could be made less complex.
If in the longer term, there is a continued focus on the newly unemployed and the demands of processing high numbers of new benefits claims, longer-term and inactive benefit claimants may be ‘crowded out’.