Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Mr Daniel Copley

  I work at the Kings Cross Project, a Community Development project in Widnes. I am now a full time, paid member of staff, but for six months (January to July 2000) I was on a New Deal placement at the Kings Cross Project.

  Although we have already submitted a report of our experiences of the New Deal to the Committee, a few of the issues raised in the Eighth Report made me feel the need to make a response.

  All of the following issues are raised with reference to the Minutes of Evidence printed in the latter half of the Report.

  On page two of the Minutes; the Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP discusses the Gateway element of the programme. She describes the "intensification" of Gateway, part of which is "rigorous screening for basic skills". She goes on to say that "no young person will leave the New Deal without the basic skills in literacy and numeracy that will enable them to remain employable".

  However, how can a person's basic skills be improved in the two weeks of the Gateway element of New Deal? Obviously, their basic skills could be concentrated upon during the rest of their time on New Deal, but this would mean them entering a placement whilst they were still improving their basic skills. Surely this is unfair, as once a person has improved their basic skills, the placement options that would be available to them increase. Prior to developing them, the majority of young people who have a low level of basic skills and take part in the New Deal, will usually end up in a manual work placement, without many other realistic options.

  How adaptable is the New Deal to this kind of situation? Can the Gateway stage of the programme be expanded and extended?

  On page six of the Minutes, Tessa Jowell discusses the option providers: "In relation to the performance of providers, at one level the fact that nearly 200,000 young people have left benefit for work is a tribute to the contribution that providers have made to that".

  Firstly, I would emphasis that this is also a tribute to the jobseekers themselves.

  During my time on the New Deal, the Kings Cross Project was very supportive and my personal advisers at Wavertree Jobcentre in Liverpool were excellent, but the Halton New Deal Co-ordinators and their jobsearch provider, Halton YMCA, were, frankly, atrocious. The jobsearch tutors had blatantly not attained a sufficient level of training in teaching basic skills. Many of the people who I encountered at jobsearch sessions had basic skills difficulties and were treated in a patronising, degrading and ignorant manner. Surely the Basic Skills Agency training that Tessa Jowell speaks of on page nine should involve all of the various option providers that a young person on the New Deal comes into contact with.

  The idea that Halton New Deal's aggressive Co-ordinators and the incompetent jobsearch tutors at Halton YMCA have received credit for my finding a job is a tribute that I find offensive.

  Finally, I would like to thank you for investigating the New Deal, which has the potential to be such a worthwhile scheme for unemployed people. Often, the New Deal works, but at the Kings Cross Project we know form our own experiences, and those of the people who we have worked with, that its rigid structure has left people feeling isolated, humiliated, ignored and labelled.

Daniel Copley

November 2000

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