Employers must not be expected to shoulder the entire burden for getting people off benefits and must be given support to provide work opportunities, the government was told today.
Today’s Queen Speech unveiled the details of 22 new Bills, including confirmation of plans to block the next year’s 1% rise in National Insurance contributions by employers.
Parliament also heard details of Bills to phase out of the default retirement age and set a timetable for raising the state pension age, and to create a single welfare-to-work programme and make benefit payments more conditional on willingness to accept work.
David Yeandle, head of employment policy at manufacturers’ body, EEF, said welfare reform was necessary, but warned the government not to unduly burden employers.
“It should be a fundamental principle of any modern society to reduce the number of people who rely on state benefits, and welfare reform must have this aim as a central plank,” he said. “However, employers must not be expected to shoulder all the burden for getting people off benefits and must be given support to provide work opportunities, especially for those who have been out of the labour market for some time.”
On pension reform, Yeandle said that, while employers recognise that the state pension age may now have to be raised more quickly than previously planned to help address the public sector deficit, this must be done gradually and in a way that allows those close to retirement sufficient time to make the necessary preparations.
“It would be unfair to force people to have to re-arrange their financial affairs and retirement plans at short notice,” he added.