Osborne Slashes ‘Golden’ Jobs Scheme but Promises 50,000 Apprentices

Posted: 25 May 2010, in Press Release

By Chrisanthi Giotis

Social enterprises planning to take on long-term unemployed people with help from the Future Jobs Fund scheme were dealt a blow in the £6.2bn efficiency drive announced by Chancellor George Osborne today.

The Future Jobs Fund (FJF), which sees the government pay for 6-month work placements in social and green organisations, is one of the casualties caught in the government’s cuts.

The FJF is being used by some social enterprises, like Mow & Grow, to expand their businesses with a view to taking people on full time. Existing contracts will be honoured but there will be no more opportunities to bid for funding even though the pre-election budget by Alistair Darling had extended the fund until March 2012.

Mow & Grow CEO Alex Cosgrove said she was ‘disappointed’ by the news.

Cosgrove said: ‘I’m disappointed other organisations won’t have the same opportunity we’ve had. We’ve managed to find really good staff and managed to sustain their employment.’

Mow & Grow has taken on more than 700 people through the fund and Cosgrove expects around 20 per cent of those to become full-time employees after the 6-month placement is finished.

Social Enterprise London is another organisation that took advantage of the scheme. It received funding to place 500 young people in work in social enterprises across the capital and its CEO Allison Ogden-Newton called the programme ‘social gold’.

Reacting to today’s announcement, she said: ‘We will be scanning the horizon to see what new programme replaces it. My hope is that it is even better.’

The new government said it would reinvest £150m of the £320m it will save by scrapping the fund into 50,000 new apprenticeship places focusing on SMEs. It also called the FJF ‘ineffective’ – a term disputed by Social Enterprise Coalition CEO Peter Holbrook.

Holbrook said: ‘We knew some tough cuts would be coming but it’s still very disappointing to see an end to the FJF.

‘I very much disagree with the Government’s description of the FJF as an ‘ineffective element’ of employment programmes and applaud all the social enterprises who participated and created thousands of new jobs as part of the scheme.’

The Social Enterprise Coalition had called for a re-vamped FJF as part of its pre-election manifesto for the sector. Holbrook said that social enterprises must now ‘look ahead’ to see how they can participate in work initiatives of the new government.

The Social Entrepreneurship Policy Group manifesto also called for something similar to the Future Jobs Fund to be created but for more of a focus on entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Group spokesperson Nick Temple, policy and communications director at the School for Social Entrepreneurs, said: ‘It’s very difficult to make a call on whether the Future Jobs Fund has worked or not because it hasn’t run for very long.’

He also called attention to the £780m cuts to come from the Communities and Local Government department and the £836m to come from the Business, Innovation and Skills department.

Temple said that once the details were released there could be news that would have a bigger effect on the sector than the FJF cut.

Stephen Bubb, CEO of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo,) said: ‘Getting the coalition government to commit to maintaining the existing FJF contracts in these tough times was no small feat.’

He added: ‘Our primary concern now is getting unemployed youngsters the best support possible. We think the third sector is well placed to do this.’