Charities could bid for seven-year work contracts under Tory plan

Charities could have the opportunity to bid for seven-year contracts to get people back into work, under new proposals by the Conservative Party.

The Tories’ new Welfare for Work report says that charities could play a vital role in helping some of the hardest-to-reach groups secure employment.

But charities would have to foot the bill for any initial costs and would be paid only by results. Payment would be made throughout a person’s first year of employment, unless they lost their job, in which case the charity concerned would stop receiving money for that person.

The amount of money received by any organisation delivering a back-to-work programme would be calculated on a case-by-case basis. For example, more money would be received for an organisation that takes on someone who has been unemployed for three years or longer.

Unemployment charity Tomorrow’s People, which is cited in the Conservatives’ report as an example of an organisation already running a successful programme, welcomed the report. The charity has advisers at GPs' surgeries around the country to help those who have been claiming incapacity benefit for several years back into work.

“We particularly welcome the proposal for seven-year contacts, which would mean that organisations such as ours would no longer have to scrabble around trying to secure a new contract every year,” a spokeswoman for Tomorrow's People said.

“The Conservatives have taken a long look at the issues and proposed changes that would overturn practices that have so far been taken for granted.”

The Conservatives’ report also proposes that those who struggle to find jobs would have to do community work or lose their benefits.

The Conservatives said that the exact details of the scheme would be subject to consultation, but that the party envisages that the sector would have “a huge role” to play.

Under the scheme those who had claimed benefits for more than two years out of the previous three would have to join a community work scheme for a year in order to keep receiving their benefits.

Many of the ideas in the document are based on suggestions in the Centre for Social Justice’s Breakthrough Britain report of last July.

Cameron Watt, deputy director of the centre-right think tank, said: “This is a really positive programme that will help a lot of people who could and should be working.”

A CSV spokesman said: "Service to the community is an important pathway back to work for many people.However, making it happen requires commitment and resources and an understanding that many people on Job Seeker's Allowance have health problems that prevent them from showing up reliably."

A spokeswoman for Community Links said that although the proposals did address the importance of gaining skills, confidence and experience, they ignored issues of poverty.

"We, along with others, propose an alternative solution, outlined in our recent report, CREATE: the Community Allowance, which aims to improve neighbourhoods and change lives by enabling local people on benefits to take on short-term and sessional work in their community without losing their benefits status," she said. "People should be able to work part-time and earn extra money for work that strengthens their neighbourhood and, as Cameron says, provide 'valuable improvement and amenity work in the areas where they live'."



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