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Parents and carers call for overhaul of employment support

Posted on 31 July 2023

Researchers have joined parents and carers in calling on the government to reform the benefits system after the latest figures reveal that more than 10,000 claimants in Yorkshire and the Humber have had their benefits sanctioned.

Parents and carers from across the UK, call for the Government to reform the current system

Working in partnership with over 100 parents and carers from across the UK, researchers from Changing Realities are calling for the UK Government to reform the current system to help people get into work, by scrapping “punitive measures” and focusing on breaking down employment barriers.


Latest research by Changing Realities in collaboration with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) reveals that the sanction rate in Yorkshire and Humber is 8.4%, the second highest of all the English regions. 

Researchers say the need for reform is urgent, as claimants struggle with the cost of living crisis.


Dr Ruth Patrick from the School for Business and Society at the University of York, said: “There is an urgent need to reform our failing system of employment support, moving away from conditionality and sanctions, and from an approach that prioritises transitions into any job rather than supporting individuals to find decent, long-term employment. 

“By listening to the expertise of claimants themselves we can start to rebuild employment support, creating a system that works for everyone. These recommendations would be a very good place to start.”


Changing Realities and the IPPR have come up with a set of key recommendations, including:

  • Improving the adequacy of the social security system by increasing all benefits, removing the five-week wait for Universal Credit, and abolishing the two-child limit and the benefit cap.
  • Transforming Universal Credit to make it fit for purpose by exploring flexible assessment periods, incentivising people into work by expanding work allowances, and helping claimants with the costs of looking for work.
  • Removing the threat of sanctions and instead focusing on offering substantial support and mentorship
  • Providing a consistent case worker to establish a regular, reliable point of contact and provide personalised support with appropriate guidance and mentorship
  • Creating a statement of rights for claimant to rebalance the relationship between rights and responsibilities
  • Improving access to skills and training and taking individual skills and career goals into consideration


A common theme among claimants was the ineffective support of Work Coaches. Dotty G, a single parent, said: “I don't believe that Work Coaches understand our individual circumstances, because it seems as if I see a different Work Coach whenever I have an appointment.”

Herbie, who is a single parent, said: “The idea that Universal Credit gets you into work or off benefits into better employed work, is nonsense”.


Melanie Wilkes, Associate Director at IPPR, said: “While not everyone is able to work, there are millions of people being let down by the benefits system who want to get into work or work more hours, but the system is failing them. 

“The government needs a serious rethink about employment support if they want to help people get on with their careers.”

The Changing Realities project is funded by Arbn Financial Fairness Trust.

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