He starts by saying that "Businesses have a moral obligation to get the long-term jobless back into work", and continues that it disappoints him "that there is a genuine view that the unemployed are workshy and feckless. They simply are not." Good. I couldn't agree more. How has that perception come about, I wonder. But, according to Dutton, firms which have an online application process automatically filter out unemployed people. That's chilling if you're desperately looking for work and being told that you have to make a minimum number of applications. "Directors tell me," says Dutton, "they have a bottom line to hit and because they need the best people, dipping into the unemployment pool isn't what they want to do." So far, we can applaud his honesty. He is exhorting companies to shed their prejudices and work with A4e to "cut their costs of acquiring new employees and be more certain about getting someone who is more culturally aligned to the business." (I'm not at all sure what that last phrase means.)
But there's a paragraph which is questionable. "While it is true often that the long-term unemployed have barriers that do need to be overcome – confidence, low self-esteem, mental health or childcare issues –companies like ours clear those obstacles long before candidates go in front of an employer." How often is often? It is true that a good advisor can motivate people who have lost confidence; but what can they do about mental health issues? As for childcare - well, Hayley Taylor, who learned her trade with A4e, recently advised someone who was worried about childcare that she should never mention this to an employer and worry about it only when she was offered a job, at which point relatives and friends would step in to help. Perhaps that's how you clear the obstacle.
Dutton is straightforward about the fact that A4e is a business, not a charity, and describes the payment model. He wants employers to demonstrate some corporate responsibility and start employing the unemployed. No one could quarrel with that. But at the coalface, as advisors try to get people into work (are they still on commission for job outcomes?) doesn't it reinforce the suspicion that providers have every reason to focus on those who have been unemployed for the shortest time? And what mention is there of "upskilling"? The longer someone is out of work, the more outdated their skills and experience become. Unless A4e and the others are prepared to fund relevant training Dutton'e exhortations will probably be ignored.
Back to that piece in the Daily Mail and the Express which stated that 50% of claimants had signed off or not turned up for MWA and justified the description of "workshy". The FullFact website has examined this claim. The DWP told them that it hasn't released any figures. The only attribution is the Mail's "a source close to the programme". So it's worthless and malicious propaganda. Surprise, surprise.