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Sunday, February 08, 2009

A failing government

It is not often that somebody can tell the UK Government that 'they told them so' but that appears to be the case today, with revelations in national newspapers that the government's flagship policy to revolutionise welfare by paying private companies to find jobs for the unemployed is in crisis. Firms say that there are too many people out of work and too few vacancies to make it viable.

It is not me that is claiming the benefit of foresight in this instance however, I am doing so on behalf of the Bevan Foundation who, on 10 December last year wrote on their blog that 'the idea that all these claimants need is a shove and the threat of removing their benefits is wrong'. They continued: 'There isn't a hope of getting this number of people into work unless the Government realises that it has a responsibility to provide jobs or meaningful training.'

Author, Victoria Winckler pointed out that 'In October, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil, there were 25,000 people who were either unemployed or were economically inactive but wanted to work. That's a small town full of people out of work.

At the same time, the Job Centre had just 1,567 vacancies registered with them in these areas. That's 16 people chasing every job.

Although job centres don't cover all vacancies, they are the main source for people being 'helped into work'. And if that is not bad enough, nearly a quarter of the vacancies were sales reps or assistants jobs (many of which are commission only), and nearly a fifth were cleaners or security guards. Many of these vacancies do not pay enough or offer enough hours to provide a living wage.'

The private companies who have been bidding for the job of getting claimants back to work want more money upfront. They believe that the contract is much harder to deliver now than it was when they first bid for it.

With unemployment about to pass the two million mark for the first time in more than a decade and with the possibility that it will be three million before the end of this year I can see their point.

Getting people back to work may well prove tougher than Ministers anticipated. The government for example will have to help to attract new jobs instead of relying on the inadequate number that are currently available. There will also have to be sufficient funding for training and education to upskill the workforce something that is sadly lacking in Wales.
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