Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Job Snobs, new contracts and another view of Emma

We're seeing crude government propaganda at work over "workfare".  First there was Chris Grayling using the Telegraph on 19 February to tell us that "critics of the government's work experience programme are 'job snobs'."  It's a thoroughly misleading and sanctimonious piece in which he castigates the BBC and the "left wing" newspapers for their reporting and tells us how wonderful it is that retailers like Tesco are offering experience to youngsters.  He focusses entirely on the scheme which is "voluntary" (for the first week) for young people.  Surprisingly, given that it's in the Telegraph, a lot of the comments which follow are scathing.  Then yesterday Iain Duncan Smith weighed in in the Daily Mail with exactly the same soundbite, except that now it's "sneering job snobs who betray the young".  It's very bad-tempered.  Critics of the scheme are "a commentating elite which seems determined to belittle and downgrade any opportunity for young people that doesn’t fit their pre-conceived notion of a ‘worthwhile job’."  He comes up with the extraordinary statement that "13 weeks after starting their placements, around 50 per cent of those taking part have either taken up permanent posts or have stopped claiming benefits."  Again the comments are short and to the point.  Today YouGov have put out a poll in which people are asked whether they approve of workfare, so the government will be able to see whether the fight-back is working. 

Meanwhile the Independent reports that, far from having their contracts suspended, A4e will be bidding for a share in the new contracts targeting Neets.  They are payment-by-results contracts, with up to £2,200 on offer for each youngster "helped".  "'Any organisation with a proven track record in the field will be able to apply in an open tender – the usual process,' a spokesman said."  I hope Margaret Hodge and the other PAC members read that bit carefully, because it is very misleading.  The committee were told, correctly, that the procurement process doesn't allow past performance to be taken into account.  So this spokesman is plain wrong.
The Independent also today runs a piece by James Cusick on the recent storm over Emma Harrison.   It adds little to our knowledge, except that in addition to Thornbridge Hall Harrison owns a £3m mews property in London.  But he does bring out her messianic delusions.  "She said recently: 'I've got another million people I want to help. I'm going to ... sort out the entire health system.'  She also claims to have 'a role in the Bank of England's regional consultations on behalf of the Monetary Policy Committee'. The Bank questioned the use of the word 'role', saying: 'I think Emma's website needs a bit of an update.' " 


  1. A lot to take in! I read last night yet another article in The Independent saying today's figures would be released on the first five months of the Work Programme.

    Hopefully the DWP will have now the sense to view them first before awarding these new contracts!

  2. Duncan Smith is truly a nasty piece of work! People often cut him slack because he has apparently conducted research on the causes of poverty. Well, he needs to go out and do some real research this time on why people are opposed to Workfare.

    Both he and Grayling are rattled. It appears that an increasing number of stores and charities have pulled out of this self defeating scheme. To use the term 'job snob' is ridiculous, misleading and rather childish.

    Duncan Smith and Grayling are attempting to spread misinformation. They are trying to say that the people protesting against workfare are unwilling to do jobs they as menial or degrading. No doubt there are some who feel this way.

    However, what most seem to be asking for is to be paid for the time they spend working and / or a job at the end of the trial period. it seems most are not even being promised an interview! So when Duncan Smith lazily says:

    "The implicit message behind these ill-considered attacks is that jobs in retail, such as those with supermarkets or on the High Street, are not real jobs that worthwhile people do."

    He is totally missing the point! In most cases, people are not being given the chance to be 'snobs' and turn such jobs down even if they wished to!!!

    I for one have worked in retail. I have also trod the streets doing door to door selling, mopped floors and cleaned my fair share of toilets and urinals. Let Duncan Smith or Grayling dare call ME a job snob.

    The examples he used are interesting. Someone who got work experience at a local college and another who got work experience at a local nursery were doing work in their local communities. They were also not helping to subsidise a multibillion £ conglomerate such as Tesco. And I bet Terry Leahy at least got paid for the effort he put in at Tesco's.

    Grayling and Duncan Smith are now trying to cast those of us who criticise their nasty, misguided and self defeating policies as snobs and cranks. Well, the number of firms who seem to be having cold feet about workfare tells its own story doesn't it?

  3. This govt is rattled! Nick "my word is my bond" Clegg has now weighed in on the debate echoing Grayling And Duncan Smith.

    However, it does seem Tesco is being a bit more flexible. They are demanding the govt not making this 'work experience' scheme mandatory.

    Also Tesco are now offering to pay those taking part on thier terms, along with the guarantee of a job at the end successful completion of THEIR work experience OR stay on the govt scheme and still get their JSA. A Tesco spokesman on BBC Radio 5 Live has juist confirmed this.

    Goes to show what public pressure and a well organised internet campaign can do.

  4. Grayling has lost the plot! In just 48 hours he has gone from branding those who disagree with his policy 'jobs snobs' to 'anti-capitalist EXTREMISTS'! (BBC R5L 21/02/12)

    Not that I'm making a direct comparison, but this sort of talk is similar to the trashing of oposition used in more totalitarian regimes.

    If this is the best Grayling can come up with, may I suggest he quit politics. We'd all be better off without him.

  5. On my way out soon to a business apt. So I was listening to the Wright Stuff before I left. Not surprisingly, Wright supported this scheme. Must come from being a tool of Richard Desmond.

    What I took objection to was the fact that he claimed it was better than jobseekers doing nothing all day.

    So if you're out of work, you never:

    Do voluntary work

    Tend to a sick reletive

    Plan to start a business

    Attend courses


    According to Wright, half the 34,000 who attended this scheme got jobs, so wheres the problem?

    Needless to say, I'll not be watchinh his show again!

  6. Just wanted to say how much I enjoy the blog, and well done.
    A small point - past performance can be taken into account in the procurement process eg by asking for case studies of successful projects.


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