The government has slashed a £75m programme to help 50,000 young unemployed people enter the adult social care workforce, in a move condemned by a leading care provider.
Anchor chief executive Jane Ashcroft said the decision to end recruitment subsidies for employers under the Care First Careers scheme made little sense from a government that wanted to encourage more people into work.
Care First, which was announced in the Labour government’s 2009 Budget to great acclaim from the sector, was formally launched in January, though it was piloted last year.
Under the scheme, employers received a £1,000 subsidy to employ for at least six months an 18- to 24-year-old who had been out for work for six months or longer. The recruit would also receive free pre-employment training.
It is not clear whether the scheme itself is to be scrapped altogether or simply the subsidies for employers.
The decision was taken as part of last month’s announcement to save over £6bn from public spending this year, which included plans to end recruitment subsidies for firms taking on young unemployed people.
It was not specified whether Care First was included in this, but this was confirmed to Ashcroft in an e-mail from the Department of Health, after she enquired about its future.
She added: “One of our huge challenges is workforce and I struggle to understand why there was a clear focus in the Budget on getting people into work and a scheme that does that and doesn’t cost a lot of money is scrapped. These two things do not marry up.”
An evaluation of the pilots, published earlier this year, found that while employers tended to value the pre-employment training more than the subsidy, subsidies should still be offered when the programme was rolled out.
A Department of Health spokesperson said the Routes into Work scheme to help the young unemployed into work, of which Care First Careers is a part, remained in place.
But she added: “The government’s recent announcement of savings in spending for 2010-11 will have an impact on the Care First Careers scheme. Further announcements will be made in due course.”