Whither welfare-to-work? IES annual public employment policy conference 2009

event type : Conference

an IES public employment policy event

12 November 2009, 10.00am – 4.00pm (incl. lunch)
West One
9-10 Portland Place, Oxford Circus, London W1B 1PR

(event complete)

panel discussion

Panel discussion with Nick Timmins, David Freud,
David Grubb, Paul Gregg and Dan Finn

From 2008, receipt of out-of-work benefits was made conditional on completion of work-directed activities for virtually all claimants. However, circumstances have changed and the unemployment registers are now replete with people able and willing to work; people without inherent barriers to work and for whom the unavailability of jobs is the main problem. Our conference speakers presented and discussed:

  • How should welfare-to-work policies adjust to higher unemployment?
  • Where will this leave harder-to-help groups?
  • What lessons can be learned from previous economic cycles or from abroad?
  • Looking ahead to years of austerity imposed by the public finances: where does welfare-to-work go from here?

These eminent national and international experts discussed the future of welfare-to-work policies, followed by a keynote address from David Freud that gave an opportunity to hear some of the thinking that would drive a Conservative welfare-to-work agenda. See below for their presentations.

The conference was chaired by Nicholas Timmins of the Financial Times.


  • Keynote speaker: David Freud, Nominated Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform

David FreudIn February 2009, David Freud was nominated to be Front Bench spokesman for the Conservatives in the Lords on Welfare Reform. At the same time he joined the Economic Recovery Council advising the Conservative leader, David Cameron.

Between January 2008 and February 2009 he acted as adviser on welfare reform to the UK Government. This followed publication of his independent report in March 2007: Reducing Dependency, Increasing Opportunity, on the Welfare to Work system.

He was the CEO of The Portland Trust in 2005-2008 and remains a trustee and director of the not-for-profit foundation, whose mission is to encourage peace and stability between Israelis and Palestinians through economic means.

He was Vice Chairman of Investment Banking for UBS and Global Head of Transport/Leisure/Business Services, retiring in 2003. His book Freud in the City was published in May 2006 as an insider’s account of what really happened in the City of London through the financial revolution of the late twentieth century.

Prior to his banking career, David was a journalist at the Financial Times for eight years, four of which were spent writing the Lex column.


  • Prof. Dan Finn: Professor of Social Inclusion, University of Portsmouth and Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion

Dan FinnDan Finn is Professor of Social Inclusion and was previously co-Director of the Unemployment Unit. He is an Associate Director at the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion and has been a special adviser for the Work and Pensions Select Committee and other bodies.

His research interests include the reform of public employment services, activation and the implementation of welfare to work strategies. He has a particular interest in the role of private and third sector providers in delivering employment services and has completed recent studies of ‘welfare markets’ in the UK, USA, the Netherlands and Australia.


Paul GreggPaul Gregg is a Professor in Dept of Economics, University of Bristol. He recently completed a review of Personalised Support and Conditionality in the Welfare System for the UK Department for Work and Pensions. He is also a member of the London Child Poverty Commission and a programme director at the Centre for Market and Public Organisation.

He was formally a member of the Council of Economic Advisors at HM Treasury 1997-2006, where he worked on welfare reform and child poverty. His research has covered workless households, child poverty, intergenerational mobility and the drivers of social disadvantage.


  • David Grubb: Senior Economist, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

David GrubbDavid Grubb is a senior economist in the Employment Analysis and Policies Division at the OECD, which he joined following an early career at the UK Treasury and the Centre for Labour Economics of the London School of Economics. He contributed chapters to the OECD Jobs Study and to many issues of the OECD Employment Outlook, and managed several large-scale reviews of national employment services.

Continuing and recent areas of work include:

  • the informal economy
  • international comparisons of and trends in benefit dependency rates
  • unemployment benefit eligibility conditions and entitlements
  • performance management and quasi-market management of employment services
  • international comparisons of labour market programme expenditure and trends
  • the impact of active labour market programmes and ‘activation’ policies.


Nick TimminsNicholas Timmins is Public Policy Editor of the Financial Times, author of The Five Giants: A Biography of the Welfare State, visiting professor in public management at King’s College, London and president of the Social Policy Association.


Programme: (titles link to presentations)

10:00 Registration and refreshments
10:30 Welcome address Nigel Meager, Director, IES
10:45 Lessons from previous economic cycles
Design, delivery and implementation of future welfare-to-work programmes
Prof. Dan Finn, University of Portsmouth and Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
11:30 Morning coffee
11:45 Lessons from across the OECD
What works, and how does the UK record stand up against this? What is missing? How should the UK approach change?
David Grubb, OECD
12:30 Lunch
13:30 The current picture
Welfare-to-work and harder-to-help groups
Prof. Paul Gregg, University of Bristol
14:15 Afternoon coffee
14:30 Keynote address: The future of welfare-to-work
Conservative policy on welfare-to-work
David Freud, Nominated Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform
15:10 Q&A and panel discussion Chaired by Nicholas Timmins, Financial Times
15:45 Closing remarks and end of conference

Who should attend?

This conference is aimed at all those with a strategic interest in the future of welfare-to-work policies:

  • policy professionals
  • researchers and academics
  • think-tanks and representative organisations
  • those with strategic-level responsibility for delivery and implementation of welfare-to-work services.

Venue : West One
9-10 Portland Place, Oxford Circus, London W1B 1PR