“The word ‘reform’ often has negative connotations. But I believe it’s time to reclaim the word and reiterate Labour’s record on the issue. Because without the reforms introduced by Labour in Government, the recovery would not have been realised. Reform means to change things for the better.
That is precisely what we did with the Pathways to Work strategy, through which we transformed the Department of Social Protection from the passive benefits provider of old to an active and engaged employment service. So that we could create more jobs and opportunity for our people – all our people.
We replaced the dole offices of old with new Intreo centres, one-stop shops where jobseekers get their income and employment supports in the one place for the first time. We introduced new schemes like JobsPlus, through which we help meet the wage costs of employers who recruit persons who have been long-term unemployed. We have introduced the Back to Work Family Dividend to provide significant additional financial support to help jobseekers with families return to work. And we did much more besides.
That work is paying off – we’ve added more than 100,000 new jobs and unemployment has fallen by more than a third since the peak of the crisis. We’ll reach full employment by 2018. And full employment is the foundation on which we will build a fairer society. Full employment is how we increase tax revenue without increasing rates, build a viable social insurance system, reduce welfare spending and create room for new investment in essential public services. Full employment is how we will secure the recovery and spread the benefits, so that every person, every family, and every community shares in the recovery.”