Book Chapter

Personalized activation policies for the long-term unemployed: the role of local governance in the UK



Fuertes V & McQuaid R (2016) Personalized activation policies for the long-term unemployed: the role of local governance in the UK. In: Heidenreich M & Rice D (eds.) Integrating Social and Employment Policies in Europe: Active Inclusion and Challenges for Local Welfare Governance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 93-117.

Activation policies have been at the core of the UK welfare state since at least the 1990s. There has been a diminishing emphasis on income replacement for working aged benefit recipients and a greater stress on labour market participation, alongside increased conditionality and sanctions. The increase of active labour market policies has been mostly characterized by supply-side measures, which have been relatively disconnected from demand-side labour market policies that aim to influence the number and accessibility of jobs for those unemployed. Another important characteristic of the activation trend in the UK has been the widening of the target groups of activation, some with complex and multiple health and other problems. It is widely argued that in order to be effective, activation policy implementation requires to be flexible, bottom-up, local and with services tailored to the needs and circumstances of each individual There are, however, many barriers to coordination such as funding regulations, the skills and resources of potential partners, competences boundaries, and administrative arrangements. As a result, policy ‘silos’ (i.e. agencies operating semi-independently of each other without effective co-ordination) and a fragmentation of service delivery and accessibility have been characteristic of many activation policies. It has been argued that the proliferation of service providers from the public, private and third sectors, in part as a result of the marketization of public services, has increased such fragmentation but also collaboration efforts between providers. The introduction of a marketized activation scheme in the UK has taken place alongside wider changes to public sector governance, which is increasingly (although not solely) dominated by New Public Management (NPM) characteristics, such as managerialism and treating citizens as customers (Rhodes 1997). While it has been stated that activation requires new forms of governance to transform the paradigm of the welfare state from a sector-based to a multi-sector joined-up, seamless service delivery (Karjalainen 2010, Saikku and Karjalainen 2012), New Public Management has been accused of further exacerbating fragmentation in public service delivery. Therefore present governance models could in fact work against the coordination needs of activation policy. While UK Government labour market policy at the start of the 2010s continued on a path of activation and market-based governance inherited from previous administrations, the Work Programme of 2011 included new opportunities for coordination, and these are a focus of this chapter.Our question is: can the governance of activation policy, including recent policy and governance changes, achieve a high level of service coordination in the UK?

governance; activation policies; employment; unemployment; multi-level governance

Publication date31/12/2016
PublisherEdward Elgar
Publisher URL…licies-in-europe
Place of publicationCheltenham
ISBN978178347491 2