UK job centre
Only around a third (36%) of people using jobcentres find sustained work, according to Policy ExchangeReuters

UK jobcentres are failing to help people find long-term work and should be restructured under new plans, according to centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange.

The organisation said the radical reforms would enable private companies and charities to compete with government providers to offer more personalised and specialist support to jobseekers.

The call for change comes as a report from Policy Exchange found that only around a third (36%) of people using jobcentres find sustained work.

The thinktank explained many find themselves in and out of employment largely due to having barriers to work which are not fully dealt with.

The organisation argued that the government's welfare reforms have improved matters, but there is still too much "duplication and inefficiency" in the system.

"The way public services are currently structured means that often a jobseeker ends up being passed from pillar to post," said Guy Miscampbell, an economics and social policy research fellow at Policy Exchange.

"This is confusing for the individual, creates barriers to help them into work and is expensive.

"Services have improved enormously, but there is still a lot more to do. What is needed is a radical overhaul of the system which puts the needs of the jobseeker first."

The report, among other things, called for jobcentres to be completely overhauled and employment services should be mutualised and be allowed to compete with the private and voluntary sectors as well as other public bodies to provide specialist support for people looking to find work.

In addition, Policy Exchange said the remaining part of Jobcentre Plus should be expanded and rebranded as Citizen Support to effectively act as the primary and central hub for accessing government services, enabling advisers to identify an individual's specific barriers to work and suggest providers that could help meet that person's needs.

"Jobseekers often have a diverse, and complex, range of needs and circumstances," said Chris Goulden, head of poverty research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

"It's important for employment support to be attuned to these needs to give people their best chance of getting into sustainable, well-paid jobs that help them and their families out of poverty."

The Department for Work and Pensions, which is responsible for Jobcentre Plus, told IBTimes UK:

"Every day up and down the country our Jobcentre advisers are working closely with local authorities and other organisations to help people off benefits and into work. We now have an employment rate which has never been higher and record numbers of people in work.

"The Work Programme - which is run by private providers who are paid by results - is helping more people than any previous employment programme and has already helped 300,000 into lasting work, and through Universal Credit we are redefining the contract between benefit claimants and the welfare state and helping to make work pay."