SA - Pikapolonica

    Activation Workers’ Perceptions of Their Long-term Unemployed Clients’ Attitudes towards Employment

    Abstract

    The Work Programme's use of severe social security benefit sanctions reflects British coalition ministers’ belief that many people on out-of-work benefits do not want a job. While a substantial empirical literature has repeatedly demonstrated that in fact unemployed benefit claimants possess the same work values as the employed and that the vast majority want paid work, it has ignored some conservative authors’ pleas to consider the views and experiences of people who work with the unemployed. Forty employees of agencies contracted to help unemployed people into employment were interviewed in summer 2011. Respondents had spent an estimated combined total of 147,000 hours in the presence of people who have claimed Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) for over six months. Most said that between a quarter and half of their present clients did not want employment. This finding does not contradict existing research, given that most JSA claimants re-enter employment within six months. However, all forty agreed that many others remained unemployed because they were choosy in the jobs they were willing to undertake, and, most strikingly, respondents overwhelmingly endorsed the view that a ‘dependency culture’ exists in households and neighbourhoods that have experienced joblessness for several generations.


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