In it together

13 October 2011

Governments worth their salt know that a single young person out of work is a tragedy,
but a million young people being on the dole is a political catastrophe.
This week’s unemployment figures fall just short of that symbolically important figure. But they also put the coalition’s solutions in sharp focus. Ed Miliband did well in PMQs this
week because he could see the panic in David Cameron’s eyes.
It isn’t that the government doesn’t have a solution. It has a solution for all the country’s ills: the riots, social dislocation, worklessness. It is called the Work Programme.
According to its champions it will deliver on every front.
This is a huge burden for DWP ministers Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and David Freud. This is a policy conceived in the good times that has not been stress tested in any real sense. Faith has
been placed in the so-called prime providers such as G4S, Serco and A4e, which won the contracts to run the scheme. At the same time, charities from the “Big Society” are expected to
deliver as subcontractors for the most difficult to reach.
The Guardian’s Patrick Butler has kept a close eye on the Work Programme since its inception. This week he wrote about a series of reports that raise a series concerns about the scheme. First
in his column. Then on his blog:

‘They all reach the same conclusions: that the corporate prime contractors are exploiting or excluding their voluntary sector and social enterprise subcontractors, putting many at risk
of going bust; and that the programme is failing to meet the needs of vulnerable job seekers – homeless people, ex-offenders, single mums and so on.’

 Chris Grayling always said that if the big guys started to stuff the little guys then he would stuff the big guys. We will see.
As one of the little guys who runs a charity that delivers welfare to work, I am not neutral in this. But this is not a problem the government can afford to avoid. People working across the country
in small organisations helping ex-offenders, alcoholics, drug addicts and vulnerable young people back to work are desperately willing the new system to work.
For the government, the Work Programme must work. It has staked everything on it. For the millions on the dole there is no alternative. We are all in this together.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Good blog.

  • Charlie

    1. Allow people in council/social housing to move where there is no work to move to areas where there are jobs.

    2. Ask employers to define what skills and educational requirements they need and set up courses to deliver relevant training . Companies /organisations and the state education system have failed to discuss with each what are the education and skills needed for employment by young people.Many employers prefer immigrants because they have the education, skills and attitude to work which makes them preferable to british young people.
    3. Set up zones in areas of high unemployment where the following occur:-
    i.No tax is paid for 2 years by employer
    ii.H and S is kept to the minimum – fire regulations, COSHH, all equipment is to be used according to manufacturers specification.
    iii. No maternity and paternity leave.
    iv.Employers to give 3 months notice to terminate employment, unless guilty of criminal or negligent behaviour and employees have to give 3 months notice to quit.
    v. No minimum wage.
    vi. Normal taxation and NI payment after 2 years.
    4. Allow a sliding scale so that people can work and still claim welfare payments for up to 1 year.
    5. Make childcare tax deductable.
    In short, remove any obstacle which stops people working.
    Until the tree bares fruit, there is no harvest.

  • Colin Cumner

    Lord Toad – yes, exactly in line with my thinking, too. Bet you the PC brigade win, though, there a very vociferous lot and seem to love tying us all up in legislative bondage. I almost (but not yet quite) give up.

  • Lord Toad

    The main thing they should do – but won’t – is make employing people much simpler. they need to encourage entrepreneurs. They need bonfire regulations and damn stupid rules. What matters more PC claptrap or jobs????

  • Colin Cumner

    And the beat goes on …and on…and on. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard over my lifetime (70-plus years) that a ‘new broom’ Government will get people back to work – it isn’t Governments that create work of any lasting value it is the myriad of employers out there in the business world who seem hampered at every turn by red tape and pernicious taxes that Governments themselves foist upon them. Wake up DWP ministers, you are sleep walking your way to disaster like every one of your predecessors who proclaimed they would solve the problem.

  • Baron

    Martin, have you ever given any thought how the charities or the corporates of whatever size can ‘find’ genuine, lasting jobs for the many when conditions for job creation, thanks to a myriad of statutes, regulations, rules by the multiplicity of agencies of the State, business taxes etc. are so adverse to it?

    In what is essentially a fully globalised economy for manufactured goods, the companies have a choice, they can either set-up or boost operations here, or in China, other countries where they aren’t burdened with the minimum wage, weeks of statutory holidays, maternal, paternal leave, equality legislation, NI, high business taxes and stuff. Baron doubts not at all the genuine desire of those like you to make the Work Programme work, it won’t, it’s not doable, it’s like asking a one legged man to win in an arse kicking competition. Madness.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Anything, and I believe this is universal, anything which allows big corporation private contractors to get their hands on government contracts to provide a service is bound to end in distortions due to rent-seeking. It is not going to work for the benfit of the unemployed, because they are left out of the client-provder relationship, they are mere units to be pushed around and made to fit into whatever targeted tickbox is being measured. This is the result of too close a relationship between government and the corporate world excluding the people. Here we are, Martin on the left, Rhoda on the right, and neither of us can be happy with the situation where the solution proposed by both parties is just a crony-capitalist mess, and there is no alternative in sight, not mine, based on more freedom, or, well, I dunno what the left would propose, mandatory full employment I suppose.

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