New plan devised to end poverty trap in Glasgow

Long term unemployed people who find work will continue to
receive some welfare benefits, under a radical new proposal from
community and business leaders in Glasgow, writes Reg

A group which includes Glasgow council, Scottish Enterprise, the
Benefits Agency, MPs and MSPs, has presented proposals for a pilot
project to the department of work and pensions. If it is accepted,
1,500 unemployed people will be given full-time work guaranteed for
three years, and their benefits will be reduced slowly over that
period rather than immediately they start work.

The group argue there are no financial incentives for long term
unemployed to seek work, and the immediate withdrawal of housing,
council tax and other means tested benefits often result in them
being worse off.

Tom Sleigh, the director of Pivot, an independent organisation
established to lobby for solutions to poverty traps, said: “We are
currently in a ludicrous situation where people can go from being
not working and receiving full benefits to working 40 hours a week
in a low paid job, and end up 80 pence a week better off.”

Glasgow is seen is as having one of the worst unemployment rates
in Europe with 20,000 registered, but the real figure estimated at
being closer to 100,000 “hidden unemployed”. The city also has some
of Europe’s highest rates of drug addiction, crime,
illiteracy and sickness.

Last year, Ron Culley, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise
Glasgow, said it was impossible to get a bricklayer, plumber or
plasterer in the city because the unemployed could not afford to
train in these trades. Earlier this month, a report by the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the
world’s most influential financial organisation, described
Glasgow as a booming city but with “deep-rooted poverty,
deprivation and ill health”.

If the proposal is successful, the three-year project will
target North Glasgow, Easterhouse and Pollock employing 500 people
in each area. The delegation has argued that their proposals “make
work pay”.

Anne McKeechin, MP for Maryhill and one of the backers of the
project, said: “The aim is to make work pay, to give people job
security and training opportunities so that they can enter the
ordinary job market without re-appearing in the benefits

A decision by the department of work and pensions is expected in
the next two months.





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