Thursday, 17 June 2010

Lib Dem Danny's shameful bonfire of opportunities

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary Danny Alexander's bonfire of programmes designed to give young people a genuine chance to gain work through internships and practical experience is a betrayal of everything his party claimed to stand for in the general election. It also gives the lie to the idea that the coalition is seriously interested in getting people off welfare and into work, and undermines the claims of welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith in that regard. The Future Jobs Fund and the Jobs Guarantee for the long-term unemployed are both measures that should not be abandoned in the absence of better alternatives. Their abolition could consign tens of thousands more young people to a longer time - if not a lifetime - on benefits. It is the exact opposite of what the coalition claims to stand for, and to withdraw such programmes without any concrete alternatives in place suggests that the Lib-Con Government is more concerned with spin and macho cost-cutting than substance where reducing unemployment is concerned.

As the Guardian reported, David Cameron's chosen poverty guru Frank Field has said of the abolition of the Future Jobs Fund:
"If we are telling people their benefits will be time-limited, cut or ended, we will carry the electorate with us only if we can definitely offer someone a job". He said the requirement to take jobs enshrined in the jobs fund scheme also stopped young people from endlessly fiddling the system, making them realise it was decision time because they would have been required to take a job. "Many jobless try desperately hard to get jobs and fail to do so," he said, adding that "the cumulative effect of that failure is enormously crushing on them". "What the jobs fund was beginning to do was offer concrete jobs for people to go to, and that was a lifeline that no amount of new deal and no amount of our rhetoric ever offered them," he said. "It was one of the most precious things that the last government was involved in."

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