Harman's 'new deal' comes under attack - from her own deputy

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The Independent Online
The continuing feud between the Social Security Secretary, Harriet Harman, and her deputy, Frank Field, will intensify this week when the man given the task of thinking the unthink-able about welfare endorses a critique of his boss's policies, writes Kim Sengupta.

Mr Field has contributed to a new volume to be published tomorrow by the think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, which includes an analysis of Ms Harman's "new deal for lone parents", claiming it is doomed to failure.

In the report, Professor Lawrence Mead of New York University, an expert on America's workforce programme says the only effective welfare-to-work programmes are those which insist participants should work to receive assistance. Merely "inviting them to meet 'personal advisers' and discuss the 'move into work' will make little impact," he suggests.

Mr Field, in an essay published in the same volume, says under 25s should be subject to "an element of compulsion". He also says "badly constructed welfare schemes" demoralise recipients by undermining the "key civic values of work, honesty, and thrift".

Mr Field, who was given special responsibility by the Prime Minister to mastermind a revision of Britain's Welfare State has been involved in various skirmishes behind Whitehall's closed doors with Ms Harman and is said to have been frustrated by his boss blocking his ideas.

The "new deal for lone parents" is very much Ms Harman's own project. Where Mr Field wants to focus on long-term policy objectives, she favours short-term measures such as "new deals" for the young unemployed and single mothers.