Last Updated: 10 February 2017
Created: 10 February 2017
For a lot of people the Job Centre conjures up images of a drab and dull place which doesn’t induce much inspiration. Nothing could be further from reality when it comes to the newly refurbed Swindon Job Centre. People are instantly welcomed by bright walls, sofas, engaging posters and a suite of computers which are free for people to use.
As a former Minister in the Department for Work and Pensions, I was really keen to speak with the Job Centre Manager and her team to discuss the ongoing rollout of Universal Credit. Universal Credit is simplifying the benefits system by rolling six previously complicated benefits (including housing benefit, job seekers allowance and tax credits) into one simple monthly payment. The idea is that by simplifying the system, all of the guidance and support from Job Centre staff will go towards getting people into work, rather than spending all of their time navigating the various benefits.
Universal Credit also means that every single person going through the jobseekers process will be assigned individual work coaches who will help with every aspect of finding work, including help with training that may be required as well as finding childcare. This means that both the jobseeker and the work coach can put 100% of their time and efforts into finding work. And, for the first time ever, people are being supported by their work coach once they are in work, to ensure that they remain in work and get the support needed to stay in work and move up. I have championed the importance of this support in Parliament as it is so crucial to ensure that people are supported into work and when in work, as many can be very nervous about stepping into employment especially the long-term unemployed. And Universal Credit is working as we are seeing an increase in the success rates of people moving off benefits and into work, as unemployment remains at record low levels and more than 8,400 jobs have been created in Swindon since 2010.
We are also lucky to have a number of engaging and enthusiastic staff at the job centre in Swindon who are actively working alongside the business community so that they know what jobs will be coming up and how they can tailor the training that jobseekers receive so that they are able to fill those jobs. They really are going above and beyond so I am very proud that Swindon is yet again proving to be a shining example of best practice.
Finally, this week MPs overwhelmingly agreed to pass through the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. This will now allow the Government to begin the UK’s departure from the EU, with Prime Minister Theresa May aiming to trigger formal Brexit talks by the end of March. I personally was delighted to respect the will of the public who voted to leave the European Union last June. I hope now that we will see everybody come together, whichever way they voted in the referendum, to unite to make a success of the important task at hand for our country. We have laid out our strong negotiation priorities and I am very confident that Theresa May will deliver a Brexit deal which is fair for all.
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