Exploring the tailored approaches of the New Deal for 18–24 year olds JA N E SALIS BU RY
Over the last decade, many countries have witnessed a shift away from unconditional entitlement to social assistance towards greater emphasis on obligations and conditions tied to the receipt of financial aid. Increasingly as part of this process recipients must work or train in order to be eligible for benefits. The shared aim of what are increasingly described as ‘Welfare to Work’ schemes is to increase economic activity rates, through the creation of ‘active’ benefit systems for all people of working age which improve employability, reinforce work incentives and reduce costs and welfare dependency. Several ‘Workfare’ programmes are in place across Europe where, despite a range of labour market circumstances, unemployment experienced by population subgroups is a major concern across European nations (Trickey and Loedmel 2000). EU Member States are committed to providing a ‘New Start’ for all those under 25 who have been unemployed for six months (Laarson 1998; Finn 2000). Young people in the UK are currently the subject of an ambitious programme of welfare reform. Though unemployment figures for the 18-24 age group have been falling recently, over 100,000 young people remain in the official unemployment figure of 5.1 per cent (Drury and Dennison 1999). In response to continued high levels of unemployment among the disadvantaged and fears of social disintegration, the Labour government introduced a raft of time-limited, welfare to work schemes under the positive label ‘New Deal’. This chapter explores the ‘joined-up thinking’ and attempts at ‘joined-up working’ that policy architects recommend for the successful operationalisation of the New Deal for 18-24 year olds. In particular, it examines the difficulties arising around the full-time education and training option.