[Hpn] UK tells homeless people to Work for Shelter (fwd)
Sun, 7 Jan 2001 12:09:51 -0800 (PST)
FWD - UK
NEW DEAL TO SCOUR STREETS AND SET HOMELESS TO WORK
Hardcore underclass will be targeted in purge on welfare claimants
Gaby Hinsliff, chief political correspondent
Sunday November 26, 2000
The Observer (London)
Drug addicts and the homeless will be rounded up by benefits advisers
for the most radical expansion yet of Labour's programme to drive
welfare claimants into work.
Hostel places for rough sleepers could even be made conditional on
joining job-preparation schemes, under plans being considered for
Labour's second term.
But the proposal to target homeless people living in hostels was last
night condemned by Louise Casey, the Government's homelessness tsar.
'You have to get people away from drugs and their problems before
trying to get them to work. Forcing them on to the New Deal will not
necessarily achieve this.'
New Deal personal advisers would be sent to shelters and on to the
streets to find rough sleepers, alcoholics and others currently
overlooked by the flagship welfare-to-work programme, in an effort to
reach the hard core of Britain's underclass.
Initially, they would be offered benefits and help with housing,
medical problems or illiteracy on voluntary grounds, before entering
the New Deal proper.
'What we need to look at for this group is something like a pre-New
Deal programme to address their needs, in order that they can get
enough of their lives sorted to start even thinking about work,' said
a senior source. It will be about personal advisers going out to
people, rather than waiting for people to come to them.
'People who might be on incapacity benefit because of problems, or on
no benefit at all, don't qualify for the New Deal, and that is another
issue we have got to face.'
Tony Blair will this week announce that the election pledge to get
250,000 unemployed young people into work has officially been met.
Meanwhile, Social Security Secretary Alistair Darling will trumpet
savings of £8 billion on unemployment benefits, thanks to the New Deal
and fraud crackdowns.
But amid criticism that the Government has only skimmed off the
'easier' cases of relatively employable young people, Ministers are
looking for ways to crack problems at the bottom of the pile. Benefits
advisers are already due to be sent into GPs' surgeries to target
those on long-term sick leave. And in future Ministers want personal
advisers to find other hard-to-reach cases. The New Deal currently
identifies those claiming jobseekers' allowance, but the chaotic lives
of the most marginalised groups means they may not even be able to
claim and so fall through the net.
A report from Labour's influential Social Exclusion Unit argues that,
once a New Deal for the homeless is established, Ministers could
eventually make hostel places dependent on participation.
Six ground-breaking pilot projects were set up in London last month
offering help with housing, addiction treatment and careers advice to
homeless people. They then pass on to the full New Deal, with options
for the 18-24 age group of a job, training, voluntary work or benefit
sanctions if they won't co-operate.
The first phase will target people attending job centres, but in
future it is likely to use volunteer outreach workers to find rough
sleepers. If the pilots work, they are expected to be extended
The charity Shelter gave a warning last night that, while it welcomed
attempts to get the homeless back on their feet, compulsion would
backfire. 'Our view is that compulsion can be counter-productive. We
would want New Deal advisers to work in such a way that actually
supports people and encourages them,' said a spokeswoman.
'Just saying to people "well, here's a job" will not necessarily be
Research from the United States shows that its welfare-to-work schemes
miss a hard core of about 10 per cent of their target audience -
including lone parents who refuse to buckle under US benefit
sanctions, drug addicts and rough sleepers.
But programmes teaching the so-called 'four Rs' - not just reading,
writing and arithmetic, but 'readiness for work' skills like
communication or punctuality - before entering work have had some
success in the US, offering a model for the UK.
The standard New Deal will also emphasise 'work-readiness' skills to
help candidates get better jobs with promotion prospects.
A key theme for Labour's next term will be not just getting people
into work regardless, but creating 'good' jobs where employees are
trained and treated well.
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