A pilot project in Glasgow aims to get residents off incapacity benefit by searching the streets for people who could be at work and encouraging them to look for jobs.
The scheme forms part of the government’s attempts to cut the total number of benefits claimants by up to one million over the next decade, as proposed by work and pensions minister John Hutton in the welfare Green Paper last month.
The ‘Worklessness Neighbourhood Pilot’ is being run by Working Links, a public-private partnership between recruiter Manpower, the Department of Work and Pensions and consultancy Capgemini. It is the first public-private voluntary organisation.
Staff at Working Links are scouring streets, pubs and council flats in Glasgow’s Parkhead area to persuade unemployed residents to try and get jobs through the organisation.
So far, 380 local residents have been placed with more than 100 Glaswegian employers – and 84% of them were still in work after 13 weeks.
Nick Young, manager of the project, said it was crucial to give those returning to work support and training.
“If a company does not have the capability to offer the right training, we have a training budget which can pay for health and safety courses right through to vocational qualifications in hospitality management,” he said.
Large employers, such as supermarket chain Asda and catering company Sodexho, are supporting the scheme to boost recruitment and as part of their corporate social responsibility agenda, Young said.
Asda has a good track record in recruiting people on incapacity benefit and other long-term unemployed people.
At its Breck Road store in Liverpool, which opened in November, more than 60% of the 277 new jobs created were given to the long-term unemployed.