Tag Archives: unemployment

The call for Real Jobs and Real Wages just got louder

Really great to see the excellent report from Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI) on the Future Jobs Fund and the importance of developing ‘real’ jobs and ‘real’ wages. Many of their recommendations echo the ones we have been making about the need for the Community Allowance – so that communities can create real jobs, for real wages, for people who are currently trapped by the benefit system.

The report clearly demonstrates the overwhelmingly positive impact on individuals, communities and the taxpayer if this type of approach is taken. The Future Job Fund was introduced in 2009 as a way to create temporary paid jobs for young people that had a clear community benefit. The scheme ended in March 2011, as the Government felt it was too costly.

The report argues that while the scheme was costly, an approach which includes a temporary waged jobs have real advantages:

  • Paid jobs were highly valued by young people
  • They resulted in young people getting jobs once the scheme had finished (nearly 50%)
  • They boosted sustainable employment
  • They made a real difference to the young people who needed the help the most
  • They worked in areas with few jobs and low numbers of vacancies
  • They worked for communities
  • They worked for employees in the voluntary and private sector

CESI are calling on the Government to ensure that ‘real’ jobs with ‘real’ wages are made a key part of any approach with young people. We know that real jobs, for real wages should be a key part of all approaches to make sure that unemployed people can make real improvements to their own lives and their families.Community Allowance allows us to deal with the biggest barrier – the benefit system, and ensures thatcommunities and the tax payer also benefit.

Join us in Campaigning for the Community Allowance by clicking HERE


Dynamic Meetings and Benefit Blogging

On Monday I met with Deven Ghelani (Centre for Social Justice) and Chris Goulden (Joseph Rowntree Foundation), to talk about the Community Allowance and the Dynamic Benefits report. For years the CREATE Consortium has campaigned against the benefit trap and for a community solution to unemployment.  The current benefit system acts a trap – stopping people from working and creating serious financial penalties for anyone on benefits who takes on a job for under 16 hours (you earn a pound….you lose a pound). The Dynamic Benefits report from Ian Duncan Smith’s think tank – sets out a new approach – recognising the need to let people take up work opportunities for under 16 hours without making people worse off. The main objection to these plans has historically come from the Treasury and if you believe the reports in the papers the argument is still ongoing….

However, at Monday’s meeting I decided to be optimistic: IDS is going to win the argument on earning disregards – so that people can take up part-time jobs or flexible job opportunities – without risking being unable to buy food or pay the rent because our benefit system is so broken.

As we talked about the current consultation on Welfare Reform – 21st Century Welfare, I raised the importance of the links between people and the places they live. If we don’t recognise the high concentrations of unemployment and what this does to local communities, we miss out on an important part of the problem and the solution. We need to make sure that the current consultation on benefits and decisions on The Work Programme take into account the importance of understanding the “community dimension” and seeks to involve local people and communities in shaping one of the largest areas of Government spending – benefits and employment support programmes.

So how do we make sure that the people with the most knowledge of the benefit system and employment support – the people with direct experience are involved? We are going to be working with Oxfam to highlight people’s real experiences and we are also looking for people who are interested in becoming a benefit blogger – if you want to know more email me at L.winterburn@dta.org.uk

And for those people who like responding to consultations please remember the Community Allowance in your submission

Best wishes


Cameron’s difficult decisions

Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech today, warned of “difficult decisions” on pay, pensions and benefits as he set out the case for “painful” cuts ahead. He said dealing with the deficit would be “unavoidably tough” and affect “our whole way of life”. While no new details were given on what will be cut, we were offered some reassurance that he would not cut the deficit “in a way that hurts those we most need to help”.

The Department for Work and Pensions spent £87 billon on benefits last year. For many deprived areas spending on benefits payments and welfare to work programmes is the largest public investment they receive, yet has limited positive impact. It is clear that there are going to be fundamental changes to the benefit system as proposed by the Welfare Reform Bill and more support for local councils and communities to develop solutions to local issues, in the Decentralisation and Localism Bill.

Yet we know that any discussions about making the benefit system “fairer and simpler” or giving communities more power, take place against a backdrop of large scale cuts. If we are to ensure that policy discussions are not simply dominated by calls for cuts in benefit payments and sanctions, we need to make sure that positive approaches that do give power back to communities – such as the Community Allowance – are known about and understood. Developed by local community organisations and people on benefits, the Community Allowance enables people on benefits to be paid to work in their local community – a step up into employment for people on benefit and a step up for local communities.

Last week we wrote to Ministers responsible for the Welfare Reform Bill and the Decentralisation and Localism Bill asking for meetings to discuss the Community Allowance. Both these Bills provide an important opportunity to radically change the benefit system and the role of people on benefits in transforming their local communities. The Community Allowance is supported by over 300 individuals and 100 community organisations. We would like to increase the number of people who know about the benefit trap and solutions such as the Community Allowance and need your help – Is your organisation or group signed up as a supporter of the Community Allowance? – Can you help us increase the number of people who know about the benefit trap and the Community Allowance through your website, blog or newsletter? We know that if we want to make sure any “difficult decisions” the government makes includes fair, community owned and developed solutions, we need your help to be heard. Please sign up at our website or email me at L.Winterburn@dta.org.uk

Guest Blog – Will Hutton

Over the next two or three years unemployment is going to climb to three million, and the likelihood is that it will fall only very slowly afterwards. There is a risk it could rise even higher if the Conservative party is as serious about cutting the budget deficit as quickly and as deeply as it says. Worse unemployment disproportionately hits disadvantaged communities most.

This is a calamity. There is a famous study of what happened in the village of Marienthal, not far from Vienna, when the main factory shut its gates in the depression of the early 1930s. The unemployed  do not tend to take up the violin, read more books, or enjoy quality time with their families. Indeed, researchers found that although people had enough to eat, use of the library dropped by a third, clubs closed down and wives complained that formerly energetic men took extraordinary amounts of time to accomplish simple tasks. People stood on street corners, waiting. Time weighed heavy but people talked to each other less.

The reason, argued the psychologist Marie Jahoda whose 1980s research is still pathbreaking , is  that work provides people with a fundamental “sense of reality”, which can not be obtained through any other activity or institution. Employment of any kind has a number of key benefits. It gives structure to the day; it compels contact and shared experience with others; it demonstrates goals and purpose beyond the individual; it gives status; it forces people to be active. Take those away and people quickly became dysfunctional.

Jahoda returned to her theme in the very different period of high unemployment in the UK during the 1980s. The poverty in question was now relative rather than absolute but she argued that purposelessness loomed as large as ever. The phrases used to describe the feelings were the same: on the scrapheap, useless, not needed by anybody. The loss of work followed by prolonged joblessness entailed a sequence of psychological states – fear and distress, resignation, adaptation, and finally, if unsuccessful in the search for work, blank apathy and withdrawal. The psychological need for work goes deep.

Hard Labour, a paper I recently co-wrote with colleagues from The Work Foundation, sets out today’s evidence  on the health affects of unemployment.

  • There is a positive association between mortality and unemployment for all age groups, with suicide increasing within a year of job loss.
  • Cardiovascular mortality accelerates after 2 or 3 years, continuing for the next 10–15 years.
  • There is an estimated 20 per cent excess risk of death for both men actively seeking work and their wives, with the possibility that this may be higher still in areas of higher unemployment.
  • Upon re-employment there appears to be a reversal of these effects. While the direction of causality is difficult to determine unemployment is considered to be a significant cause of psychological distress in itself.
  • Studies indicated a positive association between unemployed people and a higher  prevalence of common mental disorders.
  • Those with a more negative outlook on life tend to be more damaged by unemployment while those who are unemployed but have more positive and goal-oriented outlooks fare better.

In the light of the unemployment calamity about to hit the country we have to be as flexible and imaginative as we possibly can about engaging people with work any which we way we can – and we must recognise the fears of those on Incapacity Benefit especially who believe that if they show the slightest ability to work it will be understood as a complete ability to work . I strongly support the Community Allowance. It could improve the well-being of hundreds of thousands of people – and improve the look and feel of our communities.

Will Hutton

Guest Blog – Sir Trevor Chinn: The benefits of work

The absolute route out of poverty is a decent job. All our efforts and mechanisms should be encouraging people in this direction.

There are wonderful stories of people taking poor jobs, even to their own financial disadvantage, because they believe in the dignity of work or as an example to their children.  Most poor people, living on benefits, need real encouragement and help to move in this direction.  The benefits system does not necessarily encourage them.  There exists an historic and collective memory about losing benefits and about over-payments which frighten people from taking work.

The Community Allowance will enable people to ease their way into work, to get used to the idea of working, and the psychological and financial improvements that go with it.

I have recently chaired a Taskforce for the Government on the Take up of Benefits.  I learned of the extraordinary complexity of the benefit system which is of course targeted at the most deprived and least educationally advantaged segments of our society.  Unfortunately not only is it complex but elements of the system produce traps for those enjoying certain benefits but wanting to take employment. A lack of understanding of Working Tax Credit adds to the misconceptions. Further- more an over-emphasis on benefit fraud frightens away many who don’t understand the system (of a 2% total of official error, customer effort and fraud, only 0.6% is fraud). To sum up, the Taskforce Report’s headline was that if everyone took up the benefits to which they are entitled, a further 400,000 children would be taken out of poverty.

It is easy to under-estimate the benefits of work.  Work is a habit which needs to be developed and encouraged.  The advantages of work undertaken within the Community Allowance framework is that it eases that process.  Taking on part-time work is a first step that can lead to full time employment.  The extra income will bring benefits that can lead to a desire to achieve a full time wage. The extra money will lessen family poverty.  There is also the benefit to the Community of the work being done which will improve the environment for all those living there and the worker having a sense of helping others.  The income derived will be spent locally thus also improving the financial well-being of the community.

It is a win/win/win.  The greatest benefits are psychological – for the person undertaking work and experiencing a sense of personal value – for his or her family, benefiting from the experience of someone without work, under-taking work – for the community, seeing someone unemployed doing work which benefits those around them.  We are seeing large scale unemployment in certain areas of the country and especially London.  The communities experiencing high unemployment can be ones where no-one in a family has worked for three generations; can be individuals experiencing long-term unemployment; can be young people unable to find work because of the recession; can be ethnic minorities disadvantaged by language, education or discrimination.  Every time we help someone into the work process we are making a huge difference to their lives and their well-being. The Community Allowance can be an important process in that direction.

Sir Trevor Chinn, Businessman and Philanthropist