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Connecting People with Jobs

Activation Policies in the United Kingdom

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This report examines recent activation policies in the United Kingdom aimed at moving people back into work. It offers insight into how countries can improve the effectiveness of their employment services and also control spending on benefits. The United Kingdom's policies have helped limit the rise in unemployment during the crisis. It has been at the forefront of reform efforts by OECD countries to transform and modernise policies designed to help the unemployed find work, through major new programmes such as Universal Credit and the Work Programme. Although time is needed for these to gain momentum as well as for a full evaluation of their impact to be carried out, the report identifies a number of areas where consideration should be given to additional measures or adjustments to existing ones.

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Assessment and recommendations

The United Kingdom labour market weathered the recent recession moderately well: total unemployment increased from trough to peak by about 50% and the working-age labour force participation rate reached 77%, a 20-year high, in 2012. After a fairly limited fall, total employment recovered and it recently reached 30 million for the first time. However, the fall in productivity growth in the United Kingdom has been particularly sharp, with GDP expected to surpass its 2008 level only in 2014. The UK employment rate is above the international average but still some way below the highest rates in the OECD. As in many other countries, during the recession the youth employment rate fell but the older worker rate did not.

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