£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.”