FIRMS should be offered tax breaks for hiring ex-offenders with spent convictions, according to a Commons review published today.
Reductions to National Insurance contributions would be given to firms who “actively” employed former prisoners in a bid to decrease re-offending rates.
In their review, MPs called for the “ban the box” system — where ex-convicts are not required to disclose their criminal record when first applying for a job — to be extended to all public bodies, excluding roles where it would be deemed inappropriate.
MPs also acknowledged the potential of banning the box, which is currently adopted by the entire Civil Service, becoming a statutory requirement for all employers.
But a survey found that half of employers would not consider employing an offender or ex-offender, and many had “long-standing beliefs” about the effect it might have on a company’s public image, as well as fears about reliability.
The committee said: “Employers need to be encouraged to change their recruitment practices, and be given the support to do so.”
Committee chairman and Labour MP Frank Field said: “Former offenders who have served their sentence and want to change their lives deserve a second chance.
“Prisons, the government and employers all have a responsibility, and an interest, to help them take it.”
The review also recommended that claims for employment and support allowance be made in jail and paid on day one of release to assist prisoners who cannot work.