A dedicated insurance fund should be set up to encourage and support businesses to employ homeless people, according to think-tank Demos and homelessness charity Crisis.
A new report from the two organisations argues that businesses could be doing more to help homeless people return to employment – a crucial part of escaping from social exclusion.
The report, Include Me In: How life skills help homeless people back into work, proposes a fund that would act as a guarantee scheme and reassure companies concerned about employing people who may be living in difficult circumstances.
The fund would be initially endowed by several large donations, and then ‘topped up’ by contributions from companies benefiting from its impact.
“Some businesses are leading the way in re-introducing homeless people to work,” said Hannah Lownsbrough, a researcher at Demos. “In doing so, they are playing a vital role in helping individuals to take a permanent step away from social exclusion.
“The establishment of a dedicated insurance fund would support those businesses that currently employ homeless people, and encourage others to do so.”
The report also warns that many government programmes designed to get people back to work are inappropriate for homeless and other profoundly excluded adults.
“Government initiatives such as the New Deal have succeeded in bringing many people back to work, but they have focused on the ‘easy pickings’ – those closest to the labour market,” said Lownsbrough.
“Helping the most excluded adults back into employment will mean investing not only in technical and vocational skills, but also in helping to tackle people’s perceptions of excluded adults.”
Work and pensions minister Margaret Hodge, who has responsibility for social exclusion, launched the report yesterday.