Pioneers Post
features
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  • user warning: UPDATE command denied to user '408302_semagad'@'10.187.244.59' for table 'cache_filter' query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>Outside the Jobcentre Plus on Mare Street, Hackney - the London borough which claims the top spot in the government&#39;s Economic Deprivation Index of England - Fredecia is crying.</p>\n<p>This 38-year-old woman, who got her first job at the age of 14, has been out of work since the age of 23. Life has dealt her a truly horrible hand filled with personal tragedy. As old memories are dredged up, it becomes too much.</p>\n<p>Sam has memories too. She remembers studying at school, before she had her little girl, with the dream of becoming a surgeon.</p>\n<p>&#39;If I could have any job in the world that would still be it,&#39; says the 22-year-old mother wistfully. She has been looking for receptionist or supermarket work to fit around her childcare for three years.</p>\n<p>&#39;It&#39;s hard - especially with childcare. They&#39;ve actually advised me that I should wait until she goes to school but I&#39;d rather be working.&#39;</p>\n<p>Walk three-quarters of a mile down the road to the local community transport social enterprise and you can see why Sam would rather be in work than spending her time at the Jobcentre Plus. The difference in atmosphere is startling.</p>\n<p>At the HCT Group bus depot a clutch of colourfully clad women finishing a driving shift laugh raucously, flashing bright white teeth as they joke with each other. In the office too the atmosphere is jovial despite it being busy.</p>\n<p>For some long-term unemployed people in Hackney they will experience this contrast first hand in October.</p>\n<p>HCT will be creating 120 new jobs available only to those who have been out of work for more than 12 months, and a new community transport service, thanks to government funding handed out as part of the Future Jobs Fund.</p>\n<p><strong>The Future Jobs Fund </strong></p>\n<p>The Future Jobs Fund is a &pound;1bn pot of money to create 150,000 socially useful jobs that was announced in this year&#39;s Budget as part of the government&#39;s package of recession-busting initiatives.</p>\n<p>It is targeted at those who have been on jobseeker&#39;s allowance for almost 12 months and two-thirds of the jobs will be for young people aged 18 to 24.</p>\n<p>The remaining 50,000 jobs will be created in unemployment hotspots and filled by people of all ages. The winners of funding from the first round of applications were announced in July.</p>\n<p>Social enterprises figured strongly in the list, although many of these were included in local authority- led partnerships. However, social enterprises also put on a good show in their own right.</p>\n<p>In the London bids alone, more than ten per cent of the 2,000 jobs so far funded will be created in social enterprises. The jobs will be funded by government for six months and are based on 25-hour weeks on the minimum wage.</p>\n<p>While the cynics among us may berate the scheme as yet another ploy to provide a load of short-term, dead-end jobs in a bid to keep official unemployment figures down, there is a clear and rapidly growing need to keep people out of the dole queue.</p>\n<p>Unemployment is at its highest level since the mid-1990s, with official figures released in August suggesting that one in six households in the UK has no-one in employment. Moreover, hard lessons from recent history suggest that young people not in education, employment or training are scarred throughout the rest of their lives, damaging both individuals and wider society.</p>\n<p><strong>Real and lasting jobs </strong></p>\n<p>But social entrepreneurs involved in the Future Jobs Fund have a different agenda. They have been buoyed by the &#39;light touch&#39; approach, and the fact that, on average, the &pound;6,500 available per person is more than enough to cover wages.</p>\n<p>Even social enterprises that are paying above minimum wage have been left with more than &pound;1,600 per person, which is money that can be used more creatively to support the enterprise.</p>\n<p>So, the ambition of these social entrepreneurs is nothing less than using the money to grow their enterprise and turn those six-month placements into sustainable jobs - that is real jobs (not the short-term painting fences variety) that are integral to a growing sustainable and successful social enterprises.</p>\n<p>In the case of HCT, CEO Dai Powell has set a target of keeping 70 per cent of his 120 new Future Jobs Fund employees on board once the funding ends. They will be working as drivers in a new low-cost community taxi for elderly and disabled people - it&#39;s an enterprise that Powell is sure there is a demand for and will be of great benefit to deprived communities in London and Leeds - but it was only the money available through the Future Jobs Fund that made him think of setting it up.</p>\n<p>HCT is investing &pound;228,000 of its own money and Powell is pleased at how readily the board of the company agreed to the scheme.</p>\n<p>&#39;I thought it would be a harder battle [with the board],&#39; says Powell. &#39;But it wasn&#39;t, because it&#39;s about mission. It&#39;s a recession - how else do you get young people into work?</p>\n<p>&#39;We have to be very clear with ourselves. The reason behind the way [the Future Jobs Fund] is done is to get numbers off the unemployment register. But that&#39;s someone else&#39;s agenda, not ours. Ours has to be that it creates sustainable employment and only if it does that can we judge it a success.&#39;</p>\n<p>In fact Powell is not interested in the &#39;soul-destroying revolving door&#39; that is most work experience and training programmes. He&#39;s after a much bigger prize. He says that if this works - if social enterprises prove they can take the money and create sustainable jobs by building their enterprise, or new enterprises - then it could be &#39;the way welfare to work goes&#39;.</p>\n<p>&#39;If we get it right I think it&#39;s a major opportunity. Other welfare to work schemes have been bureaucratic tick-box led, rather than enterprise-led.</p>\n<p>&#39;What we&#39;re saying with this is if you create the enterprise then you create sustainability and jobs follow. That is investing in the enterprise rather than some Mickey Mouse idea of providing revolving door training and ticking boxes.&#39;</p>\n<p><strong>A third sector that isn&#39;t &#39;fluffy&#39; </strong></p>\n<p>Another person with their eye on the future of welfare to work is Richard Litchfield, managing director of Eastside Consulting and acting CEO of 3SC, which stands for Third Sector Consortia Management.</p>\n<p>3SC, which is a partnership between Eastside Consulting and Futurebuilders England, was kicked into life by the Future Jobs Fund. The organisation has won funding to create 5,000 jobs across a network of 100 third sector organisations, half of which will be social enterprises.</p>\n<p>&#39;For a long time we&#39;ve talked about the need for a sector management company that can bring organisations together to bid and compete for some of the larger contracts,&#39; says Litchfield.</p>\n<p>He sees this Future Jobs Fund process as the first step to the growing 3SC network that will compete for larger welfare to work and other public sector contracts. Using the Future Jobs Fund to prove that the third sector isn&#39;t &#39;fluffy&#39; and provides real employment opportunities in growing businesses will be a big part of that long-term strategy and 3SC will be setting targets for sustainable jobs.</p>\n<p>What&#39;s more, says Litchfield, it is the only response to the recession that makes sense.</p>\n<p>&#39;If the sector created a load of six- month jobs and then found they were not sustainable and did not offer progression routes to other employment I think it would be a dereliction of our collective vision,&#39; he says.</p>\n<p><strong>Inspiring the next generation </strong></p>\n<p>Trevor Lynn, director of social enterprise The Grow Organisation, wholeheartedly agrees with that assessment. His organisation will be working with three different partnerships - including 3SC - and is also working on a bid in its own right for the next round of applications (Future Jobs Fund bidding is a rolling system with applications assessed at the end of each month).</p>\n<p>He sees a real danger to the reputation of the sector if these jobs were viewed as free, short-term labour and not essential recruitment as part of a drive to grow social businesses.</p>\n<p>For his own enterprise, which does everything from gardening to recycling - working with long-term unemployed and those furthest from the job market - it&#39;s also perfect timing, as the subsidised jobs will help it deal with its rapid growth. Lynn&#39;s target is to employ 30 to 40 per cent of the 100-plus new employees beyond the six months.</p>\n<p>At recycled furniture social enterprise Greenworks, HR manager Richard Cummings is aiming to turn all 51 of its new positions into permanent jobs.</p>\n<p>&#39;We were doing a lot more business anyway which was starting to pick up. Once people are in place and doing a good job and we&#39;re seeing more money come through, it&#39;s quite likely they will turn into permanent positions,&#39; he says.</p>\n<p>&#39;This is going to have a huge impact on us and get the business moving a lot faster. We&#39;re over the moon about it.&#39;</p>\n<p>But this fund is not just an opportunity for individual organisations, it&#39;s also an opportunity for the social enterprise movement as a whole.</p>\n<p>When Social Enterprise London asked its members if they would be interested in taking on employees through the Future Jobs Fund it was overwhelmed by the positive response. Now it has designed a consortium where young people will not only go into jobs but also be mentored by entrepreneur support organisation Striding Out and inspired about social enterprise through events delivered by Wavelength - an organisation that specialises in inspiring business leaders about the potential of social enterprise.</p>\n<p>For SEL CEO Allison Ogden-Newton, this is about inspiring the next generation of social entrepreneurs. It&#39;s also about proving a point - that social enterprises can create sustainable jobs and be a mainstay of the emerging post-recession economy in the UK.</p>\n<p>&#39;Hopefully, whoever is running the country at that time will see if you give social enterprise an inch they will run a mile,&#39; says Ogden-Newton.</p>\n<p>That may or may not be the case, time - and not much time, only 18 months - will tell. But, if it is the case, social enterprises will have to make a very big song and dance about it because it&#39;s not clear government is listening out for that story.</p>\n<p>A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said the government would be monitoring how many people have employment after the six months, but failed to answer the specific question of whether it would monitor which types of organisations were doing a better job.</p>\n<p>Also, after two weeks of repeated requests, the department was unable to answer how many social enterprises had won funding in the first round as a &#39;breakdown by organisation&#39; was not available - despite a tick box option on the bidding form to inform the department of whether an organisation is a social enterprise.</p>\n<p>What is more - as shadow secretary of state for work and pensions Theresa May points out - it is in no way clear that this programme was set up with a view to helping young people into immediate long-term employment.</p>\n<p>&#39;The worry is that we&#39;re moving back to the old New Deal days where young people were moved off benefits on to &quot;training&quot; and &quot;work experience&quot; to keep youth unemployment figures down,&#39; says May, adding that the Future Jobs Fund would be reviewed by a Conservative government.</p>\n<p><strong>Just a sticking plaster? </strong></p>\n<p>Social Firms CEO Sally Reynolds believes this particular fund would work best for social businesses that are on the cusp of growth and need subsidised staff, or for businesses that are used to providing employment training and then moving people on.</p>\n<p>&#39;You have to question whether putting a sticking plaster on a cut knee is going to help the heart problem. We just do not have enough jobs in this country,&#39; says Reynolds.</p>\n<p>&#39;What we really need to happen is investment in the model that is creating sustainable jobs rather than linked to bums on seats.</p>\n<p>&#39;I think it would be interesting to do an analysis of what happens to individuals at the end of the six months in different organisations. That will be fascinating for me.&#39;</p>\n<p>Reynolds believes that social enterprises that really think about their business plans and create jobs that will help their organisations grow will fare better than other types of businesses in keeping on Future Jobs Fund employees past the six months.</p>\n<p>However, she&#39;s also worried that some may take on more people than they can cope with and then bend over backwards to keep them on even when they can&#39;t afford it.</p>\n<p>&#39;I&#39;m afraid that in a recession they&#39;ll end up being a soft touch and employing people they don&#39;t really need,&#39; she says.</p>\n<p>Powell has a different worry. He was expecting more than a dozen of the 100-plus organisations that received funding in the first round to be social enterprises operating in their own right taking advantage of this &#39;golden opportunity&#39;.</p>\n<p>While more than half were local authority-led partnerships, which means there may be social enterprises operating with them, he&#39;s disappointed that more social entrepreneurs haven&#39;t stepped up to the mark with their own ideas.</p>\n<p>&#39;The real opportunity with the Future Jobs Fund is the pump-priming money. They&#39;re saying, &quot;Here is the staff for six months - have a go&quot;.&#39;</p>\n<p>&#39;It&#39;s our call,&#39; he warns, &#39;and we can&#39;t really argue with this one. Government has said there&#39;s the opportunity. We can&#39;t go back later and say, &quot;Oops sorry, you didn&#39;t give us the opportunity&quot;.&#39;</p>\n<p>The Future Jobs Fund was originally meant to be for organisations that could create 100 jobs or more but was lowered to 30 jobs or more after campaigning by the Social Enterprise Coalition to allow more of its members to take on the challenge.</p>\n<p>Furthermore, &pound;100,000 of the &pound;1bn fund, contributed by the Office of the Third Sector and the Department for Communities and Local Government, is meant to be for 15,000 new jobs specifically in social enterprise.</p>\n<p>Reynolds says: &#39;The social enterprise target of creating 15,000 jobs is a real challenge and I do think the reputation of the sector hangs on it. It&#39;s the first public challenge government has given the sector and we need to do our best with it.&#39;</p>\n<p>Meanwhile, back outside the Hackney Jobcentre Plus, 23-year-old Aaron is seriously excited by the idea of a job in a social enterprise. Unfortunately, he has no driving licence, so he is not eligible for the HCT jobs. Is there a social enterprise out there that can help?</p>\n<p><a href=\"http://research.dwp.gov.uk/campaigns/futurejobsfund/\" title=\"http://research.dwp.gov.uk/campaigns/futurejobsfund/\">http://research.dwp.gov.uk/campaigns/futurejobsfund/</a></p>\n', created = 1474916398, expire = 1475002798, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '1:7d11ed4072092e62df5c643229a853dd' in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/includes/cache.inc on line 109.
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  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
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Opportunity knocks

22 September 2009

The optimists say social enterprise could change welfare to work forever. The cynics say we're accomplices in getting unemployment statistics down. But can we afford to shun the opportunities offered through the Future Jobs Fund? Chrisanthi Giotis reports

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