Tackling worklessness: Newham v. LBWF

I was interested to read a story last week in the Guardian which suggested that Newham’s growing affluence was partly the result of its council’s ‘reimagined jobs scheme’, Workplace (‘What’s behind the huge fall in deprivation in east London? And no, it’s not gentrification’, 14 January 2016).

In past years, apparently, Newham council simply ‘advised residents on their CVs, pointed them to job postings, and sent them on their way’, a system that resulted in a mere 2 per cent then finding work. Now, because more than a dozen Workplace managers are embedded with major local employers, they are better able to ease residents into vacancies, and then up-skill them through appropriate training, in turn raising their incomes. The change in approach, it is claimed, has benefited no less than 30,000 people.

Whether Workplace really has produced the overall impact attributed to it is of course open to question. Some of those commenting beneath the story in the Guardian are certainly sceptical. It is unarguable that many factors have contributed to Newham’s recent progress. Nevertheless, taken on its own terms, Workplace appears sensible, and seems to have produced some positive results.

And as a Waltham Forest resident, that, for me, is the main point, because as I’ve related in previous posts, if you look at LBWF’s efforts to boost local employment, the contrast could not be greater. Lest we forget, here are some excerpts from monitoring meetings about LBWF’s Worknet, a programme that the council financed, and its favoured charity, O-Regen, delivered with ‘partners’:

12 August 2010

‘There has been significant under achievement for July, where the consortium have so far delivered 15 registrations against a target of 63, with 9 clients receiving employability support against a target of 88 and 1 job start against a target of 15…

 Further investigations with front line delivery staff have confirmed that they have not been allocated to the projects as made to believe but are instead reporting outcomes and outputs to other more prioritised funded projects’.

22 October 2010

‘There continues to be serious concerns over the quality of the beneficiary files. In particular partner [XXXX] and [XXXX] files that have been submitted…to our internal monitoring…have significant issues relating to…pre-signed documents…which could be perceived as fraudulent…

O-Regen generally comes across as a disorganised project lead that lacks collaboration between contractors and seemly disengagement in providing good performance and quality delivery [sic]’.

 2 November 2010

‘DB [a LBWF auditor] started by saying…there were many concerns that needed to be clarified…

Problems were across the board from Registration forms…no work history, eligibility sloppy…Differing lengths of time unemployed ticked and evidenced.

Another problem…was double counting…

DB found a lot of clients that had only registered and never been contacted again…

DB explained that the [client] files he had seen had been very poor. There were pre-signed timesheets, very large hours claimed with no reviews, or evidence, not even a CV sometimes. Some of the revised CVs were worse than the original’.

No further comment is needed.

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