Whole families to get ’employability audits’ in bid to get long-term unemployed back to work

Entire families on benefits could be hauled in for employability ‘makeovers’ by private firms as the UK welfare reforms kick in.

Welfare-to-work specialist A4e plans to use techniques developed in poor areas of Germany to boost the number of jobs it fills in the UK as the government opens up the market.

A4e is tackling deep-seated unemployment in the former coal-mining town of Gelsenkirchen by speaking to whole households about their collective and individual needs.

The firm believes this is the kind of scheme that can help it increase 10-fold the number of people it gets off welfare when the UK government introduces bigger, longer contracts for private firms.

“We have told the UK government that once we know where we are going with that scheme, we will be bringing it back,” said A4e group commercial director Sara McKee. “There are estates in this country where nearly every household is on benefits.”

A4e was tasked by the German authorities with finding work for a certain number of family members, and allowed each household to decide what worked best for it.

“You have to do it for the benefit of the community,” said McKee, stressing that specialist firms were best placed to work with families and individuals to get them used to going to work.

“With several members of a household on welfare, the impact of someone getting a job is on the whole family,” she added.

A4e secured jobs for 11,000 people in the UK last year, and McKee said that the firm could find work for up to 100,000 annually once the system was right.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We are determined to tackle entrenched worklessness, and are open to listening to new ideas in this area.”

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