Labour leadership hopeful Liz Kendall has vowed to scrap the government’s hated Work Programme, if she becomes the next party leader.
Criticising the controversial back to work scheme, dubbed ‘workfare’ by its opponents, Ms Kendall branded the Work Programme a “failed experiment in welfare privatisation”.
> And yet, in their general election manifesto, Labour seemed quite prepared to continue with workfare, and indeed were bigging themselves up as prepared to be harsher with the unemployed than the Tories.
Local authorities would be granted new powers to help the long-term unemployed into work. This may include allowing councils to hire (contract) local employment support providers.
Employment support could be specially tailored to better meet the needs of jobseekers and the skills requirements of local businesses. However, it remains unclear as to how it would be funded.
Ms Kendall is expected to make the pledge as part of a speech, where she will argue that councils are best placed to spread wealth and opportunity at a local level.
David Cameron’s pledge to create “full employment” after the next election has been slammed by a North East MP who warned that the region has too many low-wage and low-skilled jobs.
The Conservative leader continued his focus on the economy in a major speech setting out key pledge that will appear in the Conservative General Election manifesto.
“After a tough few years, we have a good record of getting people into work – 1,000 jobs every day this Government has been in office. We’ve created more jobs here in Britain than the rest of the European Union combined.”
But Labour highlighted its plans to guarantee a job for every unemployed person out of work for two years – or for one year if they are aged 18 to 24.
The compulsory scheme will be funded partly by a new tax on bankers’ bonuses, Labour says.
Julie Elliott, Labour MP for Sunderland Central, said:
“People in the North East will find David Cameron’s conversion to achieving “full employment” extremely difficult to believe.
“This government has been complacent in the extreme when it comes to the jobs situation in this region. It’s a strategy based on creating low wage, low skill jobs, often on zero hours contracts with low job security. This isn’t a strategy for the long-term success of our region.
“A future Labour government will introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee to ensure that all young and long-term unemployed people get a real chance of work.”
> Or Workfare, as its otherwise known. No new ideas, as ever…
The most recent figures show that the North East continues to have the highest rate of unemployment of any region, with 9.1 per cent of the workforce currently unemployed.
This is down from 10.1 per cent a year previously, but it remains significantly higher than the national unemployment rate of 6 per cent.
It means the number of unemployed people in the North East has fallen by 11,000 people over a year and stands at 118.000.
The number of people in work in the region has increased by 32,000, an increase of 2.8 per cent, over 12 months.
Official figures also show that 59,000 people in the region work part time because they cannot find a full time job.
And they show that 33,000 people in the region actually work two or more jobs, which may suggest that they would struggle to make ends meet on a single salary.
The difficulties facing the North East’s economy were highlighted in a major new study from think tank the Centre for Cities, which examined the performance of cities across the country.
The region is losing private sector jobs, the think tank’s studies show.
Newcastle and the surrounding area lost 2,400 private sector jobs between 2012 and 2013, while Sunderland lost 1,800 and Middlesbrough lost 1,000.
All three cities are in the bottom ten, out of 64 cities and major urban areas examined, for private job creation. Nationwide, the number of private sector jobs grew by 1.6 per cent.
One measure of the success of cities is the growth in their population according to the think tank, which said: “cities that provide many job opportunities are likely to retain and attract more people than cities that do not.”
However, of the 64 cities examined, Sunderland has the worst record for population growth – because it is the only place where population actually fell, by 5,400 people between 2003 and 2013 to 276,100 people.
But there was also good news for the North East.
Newcastle has been one of the most successful areas for job creation.
The number of jobs in Newcastle and the surrounding area rose by 29,300 between 2004 and 2013 – an increase of eight per cent.
This was the eighth highest increase in the country, based on the think tank’s study of 64 cities and major urban areas.
Andrew Carter, acting chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “Five months out from the election, this report makes the strongest economic case yet for the next Government to step up to the challenge of investing in the long-term success of our cities, and build a brighter future in which more people and places can contribute to, and share in, prosperity and growth.
“The stark picture the report paints of the enormous gap in the fortunes of UK cities over 10 years underlines why a ‘steady as she goes’ approach must be scrapped.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 20 Jan 2015
This article was written by Nicholas Watt, for The Guardian on Monday 10th March 2014
Every young person who has been unemployed for more than a year will lose their benefits if they decline to accept a guaranteed “starter job”, Labour will pledge in its manifesto for the general election next year.
> A preview of some of the new jargon we can expect in the future – starter job.
Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, will say on Monday that Labour will move to end the plight of “young people stuck on the dole” when he says that the party’s compulsory jobs guarantee, to be funded by a tax on bankers’ bonuses, will last the whole parliament.
The scheme, which will fund paid work with training for six months for those aged under 25 who have been out of work for more than a year, will also be paid for by cutting pensions tax relief for people earning over £150,000 to the same rate as basic rate taxpayers. Claimants will lose their benefits if they do not accept the jobs. The scheme will also apply to those aged 25 or over who have been claiming jobseeker’s allowance for two years or more.
> So, workfare by any other name ? Six-month starter jobs stacking shelves in Poundland ?
Labour launched its compulsory jobs guarantee last year. Balls believes the pledge will be a key element of Labour’s general election campaign by showing that the party is prepared to tax the rich to help provide work for people in danger of becoming Neets – not in employment, education or training.
Balls will say during a visit to a building project in south London which employs and trains young people: “It’s shocking that the number of young people stuck on the dole for more than a year has doubled under David Cameron. For tens of thousands of young people who cannot find work this is no recovery at all.”
The shadow chancellor will add: “We’ve got to put this right. So if Labour wins the next election we will get young people and the long-term unemployed off benefits and into work.
“The government will work with employers to help fund paid work with training for six months. It will mean paid starter jobs for over 50,000 young people who have been left on the dole for over a year by this government.
“But it will be a tough contract – those who can work will be required to take up the jobs on offer or lose their benefits. A life on benefits will simply not be an option.
> Here we go… get tough on the unemployed, no more something for nothing, they’re all lazy bastards, etc… which party does he represent ? It’s so hard to tell the difference nowadays.
“After the global banking crisis and with bank bonuses soaring again this year, it’s fair to pay for our jobs plan with a repeat of Labour’s tax on bank bonuses. We need a recovery for the many, not just a few at the top.
“As a country we simply cannot afford to be wasting the talents of thousands of young people and leaving them stuck on the dole for years on end. It’s bad for them, it’s bad for our economy and it’s bad for taxpayers who have to pay the bill.”
> Well, there we are – if you’re unemployed you can vote for the party with the stick but no carrot, or alternatively for the party with the stick but no carrot.
Six months workfare or six months starter job.
Source – Welfare News Network
More than one in five young people in the North East have experienced symptoms of mental illness as a direct result of unemployment, a new report warns today.
The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index paints a bleak picture of young people’s mental health and wellbeing in the region, with the report finding that young people who are long-term unemployed are more than twice as likely as their peers to believe they have nothing to live for.
The report comes at a time when Newcastle has seen a 279% increase in the number of young people claiming benefits for more than six months since the beginning of the recession.
Jonathan Townsend, Northern regional director of The Prince’s Trust, said: “Unemployment is proven to cause devastating, long-lasting mental health problems among young people. Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn’t worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue.
“Here in Newcastle, 795 young people are facing long-term unemployment and there is a real danger that these young people will become hopeless, as well as jobless.
“Our research highlights that unemployed young people are significantly less likely to ask for help if they are struggling to cope. Our message to them is this: organisations like The Prince’s Trust are supporting young people like you every day, helping them back into work, education or training. You are not alone and you need not struggle alone.”
The Prince’s Trust, which works to help young people looking for work, last year worked with 426 disadvantaged young people across Newcastle. It also has a centre in Benwell, in the city’s West End. The charity’s survey found that nearly a third of young people from the city said they “always” or “often” feel down or depressed with the report showing that long-term unemployed people are significantly more likely to feel this way.
One in four young people locally admitted they feel like a “waste of space” – higher than the national average – with the report finding that the long-term unemployed are more than twice as likely to feel this way.
> I wonder why that is ? Just a wild guess, but you dont think it might have something to do with the relentless “skivers not strivers” propaganda channelled through the media direct from the government ?
Not to mention the treatment handed out by the DWP through its Jobcentres, Work Programme, etc ?
All the stupid hoops you have to jump through, with the possibility of a sanction if you slip up, however trivially ?
It’s enough to unhinge the sanest at the best of times.
The Prince’s Trust is now calling for urgent support from the Government, health agencies and employers to fund its work with long-term unemployed young people battling mental health issues.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “This research proves that unemployment is a public health issue. It is one that must be tackled urgently and it is essential that youth unemployment is added to the public health agenda.
“Unemployed young people are struggling in many aspects of their lives, from their mental health and wellbeing to their relationships and their qualifications and we must act quickly to end this.”
> Well, maybe they could take a lot of the pressure off by just acting in a humane way, and stop treating the unemployed (of any age) as an enemy that must be crushed at all costs.
Stop sanctions, start admitting that we are an area of high unemployment and probably always will be…and most of all stop the vile media propaganda.
All easy to do and would cost very little. But, conspiracy theories notwithstanding, I’m starting to think that the government actually want things the way they are. They have absolutely no interest in improving life for the poorer sections of society.
And they keep getting away with it, so why does anyone think they’ll stop ?
Source – Newcastle Journal, 02 Jan 2014
Whoopee ! I have now completed my two-year stint on the Work Programme (WP).
Looking back, my initial reaction is: “what the hell was the point of that ?”
It is pretty difficult to see much point to it, either personally or on a wider level. A 2012 report found that only 18,270 people out of 785,000 people enrolled on the WP had held down employment for six months or more – a success rate of 2.3%.
Given that 5% of the long-term unemployed would be expected to find employment if left to their own devices the WP can be considered less successful than doing nothing at all.
“Less successful than doing nothing at all.” That says it all, really.
Of course it was always doomed to failure, simply because it was based on unrealistic expectations – that the only reason people are unemployed is because they are lazy / stupid / feckless, and all they need is a kick up the arse.
There was a fatal flaw in their plans – simply that there is something like 2.5 million unemployed and only 500,000 vacancieas. You can kick arses until your foot drops off, you still can’t fit a quart into a pint pot.
Mind you, my expectations weren’t very high anyway.
Prior to WP was New Deal (ND), and in this city we had two companies providing it. I had the chance to sample both, and found both to be pretty useless.
When I turned up for my WP induction I amused myself by spotting familiar faces – just about all of the staff in this new organization were formerly with one or other of the two crap ND companies that preceeded it.
And that’s how it works. A new company wins a contract to provide WP or ND or whatever, but doesn’t actually have any staff or premises. So they rent some cheap office space and re-employ all the crap advisers from the failing companies they replaced, and so the vicious circle starts all over again. Its the same old people, same old ideas (or lack of), same old same old…
The new WP provider with all the old faces in our town was called Ingeus. I was never quite sure how it was pronounced (in-ghee-us ? in-jhee-us ?) but it’s a suitably ugly name for an ugly organization.
All these WP providers are for-profit companies, and you, the unemployed, are commodities. You might be the most wonderful, talented, compassionate person but your value to them is purely financial. Get you into a job, any job, get paid for doing so.
Getting paid being by far the most important part from their point of view.
It has been argued that payment-by-results whereby companies only get paid for finding people work has meant that they focus on the “easiest” cases among the long-term unemployed with the most “difficult” effectively sidelined.
The term “creaming and parking” has been used to describe this process. The Department for Work and Pensions have denied that “parking” is an issue, but then they would, wouldn’t they ?
A study by the Third Sector Research Centre at Birmingham University found widespread “gaming” of the Work Programme by private sector providers. They argue that because providers are not paid until an unemployed person has been in work for two years it makes little economic sense to concentrate on the most “difficult cases”. study also found that the largest private sector providers known as “primes” were guilty of passing more difficult cases onto sub-contractors.
Furthermore “parking” means that charities are not getting referrals under the Work Programme as such customers are not considered likely to result in a payment for the provider.
One interviewee told the study:
“It’s not being PC but I’ll just say it as it is … you tend to get left with the rubbish; people who aren’t going to get a job … If the [prime] thought they could get them a job, they wouldn’t [refer them to] someone else to get a job.”
I got parked. At least I assume that was the reason why I heard nothing from Ingeus for a period of 10 consectutive months in the middle of my 2 years. It goes without saying that that was probably my most productive time on the WP.
When I returned it was with a bang…
To be continued…