Give employers tax breaks if they hire ex-offenders, says parliamentary report

But around half of organisations would currently not consider recruiting former prisoners, citing concerns about skills, reliability and potential damage to their public image.

Employers should be given tax incentives in the shape of lower national insurance contributions if they actively recruit ex-prisoners, a new parliamentary report says.

The document published by the Work & Pensions Committee entitled ‘Support for ex-offenders’ claims that former inmates face a “cliff edge” in terms of the support made available to them to re-enter everyday life and find work after leaving jail.

As a result, employers such as shoe repair chain Timpson and Virgin Trains that take corporate social responsibility seriously and are prepared to hire former prisoners should be helped and encouraged in changing their recruitment criteria. They should also be recognised and rewarded.

“We recommend that the government pilot the reduction of NICs for those employers that actively employ ex-offenders,” the report said. “We applaud those employers that recognise the benefits of employing and supporting ex-offenders. Until more employers choose to follow suit, ex-offenders remain a largely untapped resource.”

But the report revealed that around half of the more than 1,800 organisations polled would not consider hiring a former prisoner, citing concerns about skills, reliability and potential damage to their public image.

As a result, the Committee said it welcomed the government’s decision to remove the ‘criminal record disclosure’ section on initial applications for civil service jobs following a ‘ban the box’ campaign. It also suggested that the ban be extended to all relevant posts.

Further recommendations, meanwhile, included that the Department for Work and Pensions develop practical guidance to help employers recruit ex-offenders, covering issues such as insurance and information on spent and unspent convictions