Responding to the Department of Work and Pensions' announcement of a new target to move half a million people into jobs by the end of June this year, David Finch, Assistant Director for Healthy Lives at the Health Foundation, said:
‘While government should be exploring ways to boost employment as part of the national recovery from pandemic, there needs to be a focus on reducing economic inactivity rather than toughening sanctions.
‘Today’s announcement may not affect many recipients, but it risks introducing considerable and unnecessary extra strain for those it does. Research has shown that benefit sanctions are associated with higher levels of anxiety and stress, directly harming health as well as risking health by cutting incomes.
‘The new measures may help unemployed people to look for a wider range of jobs sooner, but they also need support to retrain and time to find good quality work. Given the risks to people’s health from low quality jobs, and the higher likelihood of unemployed people having poor mental health, pushing them quickly into a low-quality roles is not something government policy should be encouraging.
‘Instead, the government should focus on reducing economic inactivity due to long term sickness and focus on positive interventions such as tailored support and training for sectors with high levels of vacancies.’
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