Wednesday, 17 March 2010

New Deal on the BBC

The Radio 4 File on Four programme on 23 March (8.00 pm) will be dealing with unemployment. The website says: "The government is promising extra help for people out of work during the recession. But, as Britain braces itself for a rise in unemployment, Allan Urry reports from the communities already hardest hit and asks what redundant steelmakers, public sector workers and others joining the dole queue can really expect at the Jobcentre." Since they've been asking for people to tell them about recent experiences with New Deal and FND, we should expect that they will be focussing on that. Which will be a novelty. Until today it was never mentioned, either by the BBC or by politicians. Last night BBC1's Newsnight had a discussion about the latest unemployment figures. They are unexpectedly down in some places, up in others; but there has been a big rise in the number of people who are not working, for whatever reason, and a 10% rise in the number of long-term unemployed. Jim Knight MP was wheeled out, as usual, to defend the government's record, and said that they had to "keep up the investment", mentioning the Future Jobs Fund but not New Deal. What about the fact that there's a real shortage of skills in the new industries? Apparently new "skills academies" are being set up (who'll be running them, I wonder?). So why, one might ask, is so much money being spent on the privatised New Deal and FND if it's so irrelevant that it's never mentioned?
But today the BBC's business news pages carry an article based on the experience of a 53-year-old unemployed man in Wolverhampton. And towards the end it mentions New Deal. "The New Deal 50 plus scheme, which is aimed specifically at older jobseekers, was replaced in many areas of the UK in October 2009 with the Flexible New Deal which caters for unemployed people of all ages. One of the differences between the two is that you can join New Deal 50 plus after six months of unemployment but most people cannot join the Flexible New Deal until they have been unemployed for 12 months. So some people over 50 are getting unemployment help sooner than others simply because of where they live."
It may all become irrelevant after 6 May. But then again, it may not.


  1. The UK, along with the US, are bottom of the table for spendng money on providing opportunities for training and skill updating for the unemployed.

    If you have a history of irregular work you can be fast-tracked onto Flexible New Deal rather than having to wait.

    I have a distinct feeling, hope I'm wrong, that the government (whoever it is)will want to dump FND in favour of expanding Work For Your Benefits (Workfare). Manchester and parts of East Anglia have already been designated for a 2-year pilot study starting in October. TBG Learning have been shortlisted for the contract. And the usual suspects (A4e etc) are also keen to jump on the Workfare bandwagon. With rising long-term unemployment and fewer job vacancies it makes more financial sense to cut back on FND and expand Workfare. Well, that's just my opinion. I hope I'm wrong and that Workfare never get's beyond the pilot stage.

  2. Margaret Becket's attitude to the unemployed audience member on last weeks Question Time was telling. She, like all her ilk, just cannot see past the propaganda and the spin. She can't understand how someone can feel so fed up with being on the dole and being treated thus that they could voice a feeling of giving up. Her attitude was typical of these people; a schoolmarm 'pull your socks up lad' mentality. That's not what people need.

    The problem with the system is that it funnels everyone out of work to apply for the same few jobs. This is a complete hiding to nowhere. Instead we need to give people whatever money they need to live on while out of work and unable to otherwise support themselves and not treat it as some 'luxury'; even the word 'benefit' is wrong. Is it a benefit to have barely enough to keep the wolf from the door? Surely that'a basic human right!

    Until we introduce the citizen's wage and then treat 'customers' (a horrible word for people sigining on) as individuals with proper help accordingly nothing will change. And while we are at it, we need to drop the attitude that there is some urgency toward finding a job and thus the longer someone is claiming, the harder things have to be made for them. It's a lunatic logic.


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