Monday, 4 January 2010

Don't mention New Deal

Two things struck me most about tonight's Radio 4 programme in which right-wing journalist Melanie Phillips looked at unemployment. The first was that there was no mention of New Deal. Earlier in the evening there had been an item on the Today programme about NEETs, which featured an apparently successful 12-week course run by Barking Council. Then Phillips went to Blythe in Northumbria and looked at a similar course run by the Prince's Trust; and at a project for the long-term unemployed run by South Tyneside local authority. Finally Phillips spoke to Jim Knight MP about the benefits system. But nobody mentioned New Deal. Vast amounts of money have been spent, and continue to be spent, on New Deal in its various incarnations, but whenever people write, or make programmes about, unemployment it seems to be regarded as irrelevant. Why?
The second thing that struck me was that although Phillips was trying to understand, and said that she felt "chastened" after meeting a couple on IB, she showed the great gulf in the realities of people like her and those of the poor. Several of the lads she talked to in Blythe spoke of the restrictions of lack of mobility; the expense of bus travel, the lack of transport in some cases. One young man had just passed his driving test and had got a job because of that. To Phillips this showed the lads' lack of mental and emotional "equipment" to get themselves out of the trap. It didn't occur to her that it costs a great deal of money to learn to drive, and that the lack, or expense, of public transport is a very real barrier. This incomprehension means that very little of her thesis is credible. Still, she tried.


  1. I remember you saying a similar thing before about a previous interview.

    Sadly the case is that BBC isn't a trustworthy source especially when it comes to Government.

  2. Do individual jobcentre know what Flexible New Deal is? I ask because in December an appointment for a "FND Stage 3 Subsequent Review" was made for this Friday at Leith jobcentre.

    Thus far they have not explained or given me anything in writing about FND, or of course, what happened to Stages 1-2.

    But come Friday, I will arrive with a list of questions in case they neglect to tell me more about FND.

    I have heard of this happening to others. Anyone else had the same experience?

  3. If our government were serious about trying to reduce unemployment they might set up special economic zones (like China) in deprived areas. Or perhaps you could introduce job sharing and bring down the age of retirement.

    Lavishing millions of pounds on private contractors, and crack-pot schemes is the last thing you would do.

    Think about it, if none of these schems existed and you had 5 people in a room and asked each how would you reduce unemployment I doubt any of them would suggest these schemes and giving taxpayers money to private contractors.

    The lunatics (New Labour) have taken over the asylum

  4. Barriers to employment?? I've said this beofre on other sites but, for me at least, the main barrier is because I live by myself. I have a CSCS card (off my own back-jobcentre didn't wanna know) so I can do labouring jobs, and contacted numerous agencies. Every phone call I get says the same thing ie-we have 2weeks for you, 3days work for you etc etc. Even the jobcentre and the council tells me to turn them down as I need to work at least 3months because I live on my own in a rented flat. I want to live by myself, but because of that choice why should it stop me from working?!?!? Ohyeh, it is ok for me to work for free for 2weeks on worktrial but it's not ok for me to work for a wage. This is so wrong. From StuE

  5. The trouble with people like Melanie Phillips is they have a superficial understanding of unemployment, so they don't ask enough probling questions. For example,the bit about the lad who took driving lessons. She should have asked if he borrowed the money to pay for lessons or perhaps he had savings: we don't know. Well, Melanie, what's the answer?

    I suspect everyone who visits this site could do a far better job.

  6. A slightly edited comment from Milly Tant:
    "UPDATE: I can confirm that after my FND Stage 3 Subsequent 3 Review interview at Leith jobcentre last Friday I still haven't been told what FND is. I forgot to ask when I was informed that I have been allocated to A4e for the FND. Anyway, there are 2 FND providers in Edinburgh, so I asked my so-called jobcentre PA what is the point in having 2 providers if claimants don't get a chioce? Off she goes to ask the manager, on her return she says " you don't get a choice, that's the way it is". She asked me how I knew FND would be better with Ingeus than A4e? "I don't", I replied " but I'd rather take my chances with a new provider".

    I'm now making a formal complaint, for what it's worth (probably not much). I will also be contacting my MP."

  7. The regulations say that "For the first year, in those areas with two prime suppliers (see paragraph 5.2 and Annexe 4), Advisers will randomly allocate customers to providers on an equal share basis. The aim will be to gather sufficient performance data so that, in subsequent years, customers will be able to make an informed choice as to which provider they engage with."


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