Tuesday, 7 June 2011

That Panorama Programme

Last night's Panorama programme about unemployment was, on the whole, fair. But there was one glaring omission.

First, we were told that a "revolution" is coming in getting people back to work, and the vox pops showed the prevailing attitudes. But then we were introduced to real people who actually did want to work. And we were shown a number of different schemes to train people for jobs, all of them locally run and funded. What about New Deal and Flexible New Deal, I wondered. FND has been run in North Wales by Serco and BCTV, so where were they? One young man, Adam, had been on something only identified as a "course". Was this FND? He had secured a work placement for himself, at Morrison's. He came away from that without a job, but was later offered 18 hours a week with the retailer. He took it. Another lad, Chris, had been sanctioned for refusing to apply for a particular job and was without his benefits for 6 months. His attitude is not that uncommon. While Chris Grayling, along with most people, believe that the unemployed have no right to be choosy, it's usually about maintaining some sort of control over your life.

The local MP, Chris Ruane, talked about the dangers of stigmatising the unemployed. He pointed out that 50% of the jobs in his constituency are in the public sector, and many of those jobs are going. The boss of Rehab, one of the new Work Programme contractors in the area, was cautious about the prospects of getting the long-term jobless back into work.

Why do these programmes shy away from naming the private contractors these days? Grayling is confident that the WP will succeed because it only pays out for sustainable jobs. (That wouldn't include Adam and his 18 hours a week.) It's as if the terrible record of the last 5 years is to be forgotten; the "revolution" will be successful.


  1. I would disagree with your comment that Adam's 18hr/week job wouldn't qualify as a "sustainable outcome". As I understand the rules, anyting over 16hr/week, you are not entitled to JSA, so you would automatically be "signed off". In the eyes of the DWP, this would be (in their own words) "off benefits" so an outcome payment would (probably) be made. However, Adam would still qualify for housing benefits and council tax reductions.

    On the whole, the Panorama program appeared to present a realistic and balanced view of the difficulties experienced in Rhyl. However, it still managed to portray the new W2W scheme as something new and innovative that would solve the problem once and for all by allowing providers to come up with their own schemes and invest £580million (of private money) to ensure success. In other words, a re-hash of the same inane worthless activities from companies with a demonstrably poor record.

  2. Not Panarama but on now BBC1

    Poor Kids
    10:35pm BBC1

    This is a heartfelt, moving documentary focusing on a handful of British children who live below the poverty line. You will be shocked and angered.


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