Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Incapacity benefit numbers boosted by job shortages


Government efforts to increase employment by reforming incapacity benefits are likely to have a limited impact unless accompanied by more effective regional policies to create new jobs in Britain’s older industrial areas, according to a new report published by the thinktank Catalyst, and authored by academics at Sheffield Hallam and Cambridge Universities.

The government believes that many of the 2.7 million people on incapacity benefits could take up work, and sees this as a key step towards its long-term goal of raising the UK employment rate. But the Catalyst report argues that high numbers on incapacity benefit are the result not of “malingering by the workshy” but the failure of government regional policies to reverse the decline of the UK’s manufacturing regions, where there is still a serious shortage of jobs.

Government plans to restrict benefits and require claimants to attend work-related interviews are expected to cause controversy and possible backbench rebellions in the new parliamentary session.

Mobilising Britain’s Missing Workforce: Unemployment, incapacity benefit and the regions, authored by Professor Steve Fothergill of Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research and Cambridge economist John Grieve Smith, says that the problems of incapacity benefit claims and regional regeneration are “two sides of the same coin”.

The report shows that “full employment” has only been achieved in the more prosperous areas of the South East, and that numbers claiming incapacity benefit are concentrated in areas of the North where there is still low demand for labour.

A list of the 30 districts with the highest share of people on such benefits “reads like a roll call of older industrial Britain”, it says.

The report presents data showing that:

  • in the South East the proportion of the working population claiming incapacity benefits is typically three to four per cent, but in many parts of the older industrial North, including Scotland and Wales, the proportion is well over ten per cent
  • the portion of the working age population claiming incapacity benefits varies from just two per cent in Wokingham (in Berkshire) and Hart (in Hampshire), to more than 20 per cent in Easington (County Durham) and Merthyr Tydfil (South Wales)
  • “hidden unemployment” in disadvantaged areas accounts for around 1.1 million incapacity benefit recipients – around four in ten of all claims – who would be in paid work if full employment truly existed in across the country

The report is critical of the government’s reliance on “supply side” labour market measures and devolution to Regional Development Agencies, arguing that these deep imbalances can only be addressed by proactive policies that channel investment to disadvantaged regions. It warns that the problem may be exacerbated by new EU rules that will reduce European funds available to UK regions at the same time as restricting the government’s own investment incentives.

In response the authors outline a “seven-point strategy” for “mobilising Britain’s missing workforce”, making full use of the available resources and options and targeting them to maximise benefits to areas of low employment. John Grieve Smith, report co-author, said: “The problem of regional unemployment will not be solved by giving Regional Development Agencies their heads and leaving them to get on with it. This may merely widen present disparities. The government must adopt a policy of discriminating more actively in favour of the weaker areas, both in giving incentives, and in public expenditure on infrastructure and the location of public sector institutions.”

The report is being sent to government ministers, MPs, and Catalyst subscribers.

Lorna Branton | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>