It was good to be part of a lively discussion on Monday ( 17 June) organised by Reform and hosted by the Association of British Insurers about how employers can improve welfare outcomes.
Mark Hoban, the Minister for Employment described Carol Black’s work as pivotal and spoke strongly of the need to ensure people were better off in work. He said that for those returning to work, post – employment support was key and he highlighted the value of maintaining employability and avoiding job loss.
The panel discussion was wide ranging with a range of expert views, including Dame Carol, strongly supporting the value to employers, employees and the State of promoting workplace health and well-being. A recurrent theme was competence and capability of management and leadership –more important than token fruit and gym membership!
The second session focused more on the need to plan for the future financial needs of our workers in order to reduce poverty. Stephen Timms, The Shadow Minister for Employment, focused on outlining ideas for the job guarantee scheme, but was clear in the need to be open to ideas and expressed his willingness to listen to new ideas to tackle what he described as the unemployment crisis.
The panel session which followed was spirited and talked about the frightening fact that more people in poverty were in working households than non-working. There was less consensus here with one Lord Stevenson arguing that saving for the future in the form of a pension made little economic sense when interest rates were so low that inflation exceeded savings income! There was also a suggestion that today’s welfare state was not configured to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce, where job security and uncertainties of investment drove a need for different behaviours and different ways of supporting financial needs.
A strong audience and diverse speakers made this an interesting and broad ranging meeting which included insurers, health providers and third sector representatives – and the issues covered suggest that solutions need diverse stakeholders to work together if we are to reduce sickness and improve employment rates.
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