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Workers’ Project Scrapped
£600k building workers’ project scrapped
Feb 9 2008 by Liza Williams, Liverpool Daily Post
A MAJOR project to help more Merseyside workers gain construction jobs during Liverpool’s ongoing regeneration has been scrapped.
The Construction for Merseyside initiative aimed to increase the competitiveness of local firms against companies from the rest of the UK, allowing employment to stay local rather than going to drafted-in workers.
Despite lasting for 22 months, one insider with the project said it has been “a complete waste of money”.
Other city sources criticised the £600,000 scheme for not getting enough local people into work.
But the initiative’s chief executive has defended the project and says he is trying to carry on its work without grant funding.
One leading member of the project told the Daily Post: “It hasn’t worked. Some of the people involved had a few good ideas but nothing seems to have materialised. I think it has been a waste of money.
“We have really missed an opportunity here to employ more Merseysiders and make the most of the growth of the city.
“Jobs in construction are well paid and could help get unemployed youngsters off the streets but instead companies from places like Manchester have benefited.
“ I don’t think we have created a single job”
The North West Development Agency provided £179,868 of funding for the scheme, along with £196,039 from the European Regional Development Fund and £235,000Šfrom the Single Regeneration Budget.
The accountable body for funding – Liverpool City Council – is currently evaluating the project.
Alec McFadden, president of the Merseyside TUC, said: “Local people have not benefited from the huge of amount of construction work, that is what you hear on the ground.
“It is sad when schemes like this fold because it is so important to get young people into jobs like this and into apprenticeships.
“Unemployment is directly linked to crime. If it goes up so does the crime rate and the amount of work in the city at the moment could have reduced local unemployment.
“One problem is many employers choose to draft in eastern European workers – which we have no problem with – providing wages are equal, which they often are not. Local workers are not playing on a level playing field if other workers are earning less.
“I have been very disappointed that there have not been more job opportunities, but we hold a hand out to Government to address this and welcome any future schemes that could work.”
Construction for Merseyside’s chief executive defended its record.
Guy Lawson said: “I am disappointed to hear that some people have not realised what the project has achieved.
“The results reflect the funding we received.
“It was not necessarily about providing jobs for people but helping businesses to become more competitive, so they are in a better position to train and compete and this was the aim from day one.
“One of the things I am most proud of is the consortium of businesses that we have set up.
“Now local businesses are communicating in this way they are in an excellent position to win more business for Merseyside.
“I really would like to carry on with the project without grant funding and we are working on that.
“You cannot just create jobs, it is a long process and a complex industry.
“But we have definitely made significant inroads in the short space of time so far.”
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2005 - 2017
I was approached by this organisation with offers of help for my business.
After 2 meetings with the advisor nothing came of it, promises of help with training, grants, risk assessments etc. Nothing!!
It seems to me that when something like this is set up you may as well pour the money down the drain, the people employed get paid regardless of the results and you always get the impression that its jobs for the boys.
As I've always known God helps those who help themselves. You cannot rely on organisations like these.
Last edited by chrismarsden; 02-11-2008 at 12:24 AM.
New action plan for jobless crisis
Feb 25 2008
by Richard Down, Liverpool Daily Post
A WIDE-REACHING scheme to tackle an annual £1.5bn unemployment crisis in Merseyside has been launched.
About 180,000 people aged 16 to 65 are out of work and claiming benefits in Merseyside, according to figures obtained by The Daily Post.
Now Knowsley Council, which is slowly getting to grips with its own unemployment predicament, is leading Merseyside in a co-ordinated crackdown on “worklessness”.
Figures reveal 22 hot-spots in Merseyside, including Birkenhead, Bootle, Kirkby and Kirkdale, where unemployment staggeringly stands at between 52% and 62% of working age people.
The statistics come despite Liverpool and the wider region’s regeneration with thousands of jobs being created.
Jobless figures show unemployment in some of the city's most deprived areas is static or getting worse.
The key is that just a fraction of jobless people are claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance – the benefit that is traditionally used to calculate unemployment.
The vast majority, more than 150,000 in and around Merseyside, are out of work and claiming other benefits such as Incapacity Benefit.
Political leaders in local and national government have always struggled to contact this group. In Westminster, politicians have spent the past 12 months talking about making it harder to claim Incapacity Benefit.
But until now, no-one has taken the lead on turning the tide in Merseyside.
The City Employment Strategy, led by Knowsley, is said to mark a seismic shift in the way worklessness is tackled.
Alongside a regional Consortia Board, Knowsley will be responsible for making sure all six local authorities are working properly with Job Centre Plus, DWP, Learning and Skills Council, Government Office Northwest, NWDA, as well as trade unions and voluntary sector.
Having a single authority to co-ordinate how money is won, and then how it is used, should put the region in the top bracket nationwide by 2010 – if all goes to plan.
Knowsley has been handed this responsibility after managing to eat into numbers on Incapacity Benefit and working with lone parents.
Cllr Ron Round, leader of Knowsley’s Labour council, praises a small team led by Tracy Fishwick, head of employment and social inclusion in Knowsley, for managing a turnaround in his authority.
He said: “We first started on this in 1998 with a group of young people.
“Tracy led a small team with just £300,000 to help 140 people. I feel that we have to get through to 16-year-olds but they are only part of the picture.
“It is the unskilled we need to help. Once you stop working for one reason or another, you can end up unable to get another job because you haven’t got the right skills. Your confidence goes and so does the ability even to get up for work.
“If you’re claiming JSA, you get fortnightly updates, training options and advice – it’s also well known it’s not for ever.
“But for those on incapacity benefit that doesn’t happen.”
He also said business leaders needed to communicate more effectively with local authorities to gear unemployed people up with the right sort of skills.
“It’s about employers telling us what they want in 12-18 months to address their needs.”
A radical plan suggested last summer that the Mersey authorities would keep a share of the savings from cutting the benefits bill has not come off.
But local authorities hope to save in other ways.
Source: Liverpool Daily Post
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