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New inquiry: DWP's preparations for changes in the world of work

14 May 2020


DWP is currently experiencing unprecedented demand for its services due to coronavirus, which has had a substantial, immediate impact on the services it is able to provide and the way that it deploys its staff. But alongside this, DWP faces much longer-term challenges. In particular, the Government has described the “Fourth industrial revolution” as “New technology […] creating new industries, changing existing ones and transforming the way things are made.”

These changes may have a more fundamental impact on the services that DWP needs to provide. Some analysis suggests that the types of jobs available will change substantially. The number of jobs available may be reduced as more services are automated, with low and medium skilled jobs—those that Jobcentre Plus has traditionally concentrated on—most at risk. As work changes, it may also be necessary to review the legal framework that underpins employment, to make sure that workers continue to have appropriate status and protections in law.

More options

Some commentary has suggested that these changes may require the Government to consider more radical options to ensure that people have enough money to live on: for example, experimenting with a Universal Basic Income (UBI).

The Committee wants to take a broad look at the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for DWP.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP said:

“DWP is focused on getting unprecedented numbers of Universal Credit claims processed and in payment. That is the right focus during the current crisis, but DWP also faces much longer-term pressures. The Committee wants to look at the implications of innovation in technology for the future of employment, and to understand what more DWP needs to do to ensure that the people it serves are properly supported to find, keep, and progress in work.”

Call for written submissions

The Committee would like to hear your views on the following questions. You do not have to answer all of the questions.

  1. What are the main challenges that DWP faces as a result of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”?
  2. What do we know about the possible likely impact on the labour market? For example:
    Are some sectors or types of jobs more likely to be affected than others?
    Are some groups of people more likely to be affected than others?
    What new types of jobs and opportunities could become available?
    s it likely that there will be a reduction in the number of jobs available?
  3. Is there a need to consider new, long-term approaches to addressing change in the labour market: for example, introducing a Universal Basic Income (UBI)?
    Is UBI an appropriate short-term response to shocks in the labour market?
    What can the Government learn from the international evidence on UBI?
  4. Are DWP Work Coaches well equipped to advise people who are looking for work on new and emerging sectors and jobs?
    How could DWP improve the training and advice it offers to jobseekers?
  5. What support, advice and training should DWP offer to people who are looking to progress in work, or take up more hours?
  6. What is DWP's role in ensuring that young people have the skills they need to get into and progress in work?
  7. How could DWP work more closely with employers to ensure that claimants have the skills they need to find work in the future labour market?
  8. As the workplace changes, will it be necessary to change the legal definition of employment to ensure that people continue to have the appropriate legal status and protections? Might any other legal changes be needed?

The closing date for submissions is Monday 29th June.

Further information

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