09 October 2023

Labour would ensure ‘everyone who can work, does’

09 October 2023

A Labour government would ensure “everyone who can work, does”, the shadow work and pensions secretary has said.

Liz Kendall used her key note speech at the party conference in Liverpool to set out how Labour would fix economic inactivity in the UK.

She told delegates “real opportunities” will be matched by “the responsibility to take them up”, suggesting a Labour government could change the welfare system.

Last week, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt reiterated the Government’s commitment to make benefits sanctions harsher.

Ms Kendall said “Britain isn’t working”, with more than two million people shut out of the workplace because of sickness or disability but wanting to work.

She added: “Under Labour, this will change. Our top priority will be ensuring everyone who can work, does. Because we believe the benefits of work go beyond a payslip – and in the dignity and self-respect good work brings.”

Ms Kendall said Labour would tackle the root causes of worklessness by recruiting thousands more mental health staff, overhauling skill and transforming employment support.

This is our contract with the British people - real opportunities matched by the responsibility to take them up

Ms Kendall added: “Our new deal for working people will cut poverty, increase wages and improve workers’ rights. And we’ll make sweeping changes to job centres so they don’t just help people get work but get on in their work.

“This is our contract with the British people – real opportunities matched by the responsibility to take them up.”

Insisting “our ambition is undiminished”, she added: “We will reform universal credit to protect people when they need it and to genuinely make work pay. We’ll champion equality for disabled people.

“And we will deliver a bold, new, cross-government, child poverty strategy and ensure decent state and second pensions for all.”

Ms Kendall, who unsuccessfully ran for the leadership in 2015 against Jeremy Corbyn and is considered to be on the right of the party, was promoted to shadow work and pensions secretary in Sir Keir Starmer’s latest reshuffle after impressing in her former social care brief.

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