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
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.