Welfare-to-work and the New Deal

Richard Layard

Published: June 2000

Welfare-to-work is on trial in many countries. In Britain it has become the
government’s most important policy for lowering unemployment and expanding
labour supply. But can it work? And what lessons does Britain’s experience
provide for other countries? This paper argues that whilst the Welfare-to-Work
approach has the power to transform the lives of millions—by making them self-sustaining
rather than dependent—it requires extreme sensitivity. The help must
be of very high quality and the spirit of the policy must be visibly in the clients’
interest. The author concludes that the New Deal has been an extraordinary
success from that angle, with very high levels of client satisfaction. It is a good
example for other countries to follow. But each future step must be as sensitive as
the last.

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