A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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A policy that's good for young jobseekers and good for hard-working taxpayers
11/09/2012 12:19:00

 
 

Yesterday, I asked a question about a policy that the Government is piloting in parts of London, including Croydon, whereby young people who are unemployed and have never had a job will have to do some voluntary work in return for their benefits.

At the moment, many young people are unemployed through no fault of their own. In the long-term, we need to grow the economy so that there are enough jobs for everyone. The Government believes that the keys to doing that are dealing with the deficit, getting the banks lending again and diversifying our economy so that we make things in this country once again rather than relying solely on financial services.

But these things take time. So in the short term we need to do all we can to help those struggling to find work. That’s why the Government has massively expanded the number of apprenticeships (up by nearly 200,000 in its first year), why it has changed the help available from Job Centre Plus and why it is now trying to ensure that young people who are out-of-work are doing something productive rather than sitting at home.

This is bound to be controversial but I think it is a good policy. It’s better for the young people concerned - it should make them more attractive to employers by hopefully giving them a good work ethic, new skills and a positive reference. And it's also right in principle that people who have never paid anything in to the system shouldn’t be able to take out without doing something in return.

Comment on this blog

 

Readers' Comments

On 11/09/2012 21:38:00 Paul Ogier wrote:
Please will you consider not perpetuating the false and divisive distinction between paying 'into the system', usually described by you and many other politicians as taxpayers, and those 'taking out' of the system, the latter usually described as those receiving benefits.

Virtually everybody pays taxes when buying goods and services even if it is directly through VAT or indirectly through corporation tax in company profits. Most people are taxpayers and benefit recipients at the same time and certainly over our lifetime! Giving and receiving have rarely if ever been mutually exclusive even if the media and politicians want to maintain such a duality for their own purposes.

 
On 14/09/2012 21:36:00 Jim wrote:
I think the distinction between those paying 'into the system' and those 'taking out" is perfectly accurate. It is correctly divisive because it reflects the reality that our benefits system encourages this division.

If you are living on benefits and use your money to buy to stuff, yep there is VAT etc. But you are hardly paying "into the system" if it is the system that gave you that money.

Some people will be on both sides of the fence in their life time. But, Paul Ogier, you write "Giving and receiving have rarely if ever been mutually exclusive even if the media and politicians want to maintain such a duality for their own purposes." I suggest for the most part they are mutually exclusive in modern Britain. We have large numbers of people that live a life on benefits funded by others who go through their lives never claiming a bean. In some cases, it is generation after generation that live off the system.

So far from it being an issue of "the media and politicians maintaing such a duality for their own purposes" I would suggest that they are spot on - and taxpayers like me are sick and tired of the status quo.

 
On 18/09/2012 12:37:00 Simon wrote:
I agree with the basic principle of voluntary work being good experience and especially to do it to add to the CV to improve its value in gaining a job, but it isn't voluntary if they are forced to do it or lose their benefits!

Given that there will be a certain reluctance to do any task you are forced to do under threat, why not sweeten the pill by increasing the benefit payment over the 3 month period? If they were getting paid for the actual work they would be getting closer to £150-180 wouldn't they, so why give an extra £15-30 a week? Given that you (according to the linked article) currently think that all of these young people are just sitting at home then this at least would help with the wear and tear to their clothes, shoes etc., but mostly it would be (1) an incentive and (2) a reflection that working is worth it.

Do the companies offering the work placement opportunities have to provide a written reference at the completion? If they don't, then it lessens the benefit from doing the experience from a CV perspective.

Who will be making sure that this, and any schemes post-pilot, will be work experience and not abuse of the scheme to get cheap/free labour?

 
 

 

 

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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG