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LGA criticises unemployment strategy for excluding local role

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Efforts to tackle unemployment will be hampered by a lack of local flexibility, local authorities have warned.

The government’s welfare to work strategy revealed contracts would be awarded at city region or sub-regional level, rather than for more localised projects.

Ministers hope to stimulate innovation by commissioning public, private or voluntary organisations to run projects to nurture the long-term unemployed into long-lasting jobs.

Under the commissioning strategy, organisations will be paid when a former jobseeker has been in employment for between six and 18 months.

Local Government Association chair Sir Simon Milton (Con) said: “Decision making and funding needs to be placed closer to the level of where people live and work, so that groups of councils working
with other bodies, can ensure the different services needed by a long-term unemployed person help them into work.”

Meanwhile, the case for councils’ leadership in tackling unemployment has been boosted by the New Local Government Network’s The local journey to work: localism, welfare and worklessness report.

The think tank, based on an analysis of Kent CC’s efforts to reduce unemployment, says councils should be charged with bringing local partners and employers together and allowed to keep half of any
benefit savings resulting from reducing unemployment.

Kent leader Paul Carter (Con) said: “There is no one-size-fitsall solution, which is why local government is perfectly placed to deliver effective programmes.”

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