The strategy is in place, yet the scale of the
problem remains unpredictable. Flexible
New Deal (FND), the government’s plan to
tackle long-term unemployment, goes live
this autumn, but no one knows how many jobless
people it will have to cater for.
Under FND – which the government hopes will
find jobs for 200,000 annually – claimants out of
work for 12 months or longer will be referred to
private contractors who’ll be paid by results to find
Will it succeed? Will there be enough money?
Recently, MPs on the Work and Pensions select
committee said that with FND now facing
demands from three times more applicants than
first predicted, current funding arrangements were
‘inadequate’. And there’s another key question: will
private contractors strive to find jobs for challenging
groups such as the disabled?
Everyone agrees that no single solution can be
imposed from on high. Imagination is needed in
a recession. ‘Provision must be localised to meet
concentrations of worklessness [sic],’ says Dave
Simmonds, Chief Executive of the Centre for
Economic and Social Inclusion (Inclusion).
He welcomes FND, though would like to have
seen it introduced three or four years ago. ‘Old New
Deal has a strict menu and structure through which
people had to move,’ he says. ‘Under the Flexible
New Deal, providers can do anything they think
will work for the individual – they don’t have to go
through set routes and procedures.’
At last year’s Housing Corporation annual
conference held in Leeds, Simmonds welcomed the
bid by housing associations to run contracts under
FND and called for more to become involved as
mainstream partners in tackling unemployment.
It’s that sort of creative approach he sees shaping
the future. But he fears for deprived pockets of
Britain yet to recover fully from the last recession.
‘We think there should be an active job creation
programme,” he says. ‘One way forward could be to
create green jobs.’
These cover a multitude of things: clearing
polluted brownfield s