Labour’s compulsory job guarantee vs the real thing

Last Updated: March 10, 2014By

I share a few of the reservations about Labour’s job guarantee that are voiced here; the number of working hours and amount of pay available are likely to be extremely unhelpful to people taking part, and of course any private sector involvement would have to be monitored strictly to ensure they weren’t bending the rules to get maximum profit from minimum investment – the £500 cap on training is a particularly strong warning sign.
But it’s a step in the right direction. Tory work schemes are a disaster.


  1. chris lovett March 10, 2014 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Work? Working in which/what job? You don’t create jobs by paying people to occupy made up positions. Surely, a massively robust and aggressive attack on the coalition’s austerity policy and a manifesto pledge to reject it is the way to go? Which of course should have been the position nufakelabour adopted in late 2010, when Osbornomics first took effect. This is a surefire failure, sorry Ed.

    • AM-FM March 10, 2014 at 11:21 pm - Reply

      “Work? Working in which/what job? You don’t create jobs by paying people to occupy made up positions.”

      I agree with that.
      The whole idea of performing “work” is to produce some wealth and profit, preferably for yourself and a bit for your employer, there’s absolutely no point in doing it otherwise.

      The fact that this guaranteed work has to be funded from somewhere else is just proof it doesn’t exist and doesn’t need doing.

      Performing unnecessary work just creates a loss to everybody, – just ask the whole welfare to work “industry”.

      Might as well just employ 1m of the unemployed to dig holes and scatter litter everywhere, and employ the other 1m to fill in the holes and pick up the litter, makes just as much sense.

  2. steve March 10, 2014 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    I endorse the concept of work experience but its all too late by then.Its a root and branch approach we need and it starts in school.Instead of filling kids heads with clap trap nonsense they can never benefit from,sort the wheat from the chaff and allow kids to start learning a trade at an age it will be useful to them when they leave school.It would mean working in actual companies say from 14 onwards so by 18 they would be instantly employable with substancial knowledge of how that chosen profession works and operates.Thats progress and virtually guarantees an instant workforce for would be employers,money well spent all round.It then will allow the swots to carry on being taught at a faster rate and.thats how you get kids into jobs and any party that advocates such a policy will always get my vote.Threats of benefit cuts wear thin after awhile,it doesnt work it just ensures as a party you end up as unpopular as the Tories.Political parties are all on notice because more and more people are turning their backs on these dinosaurs of the 20th century.Its time for a totally different way to organise ourselves and not languish in the past.

    • Mike Sivier March 10, 2014 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      And how much would they be paid for working in these companies from the age of 14?

      • joanna March 11, 2014 at 11:56 am - Reply

        Good point Mike, but then you would get people complaining that they weren’t paid. Saying that I had work experience in a council run, old peoples’ home in 1985. For me it was a very pleasant experience. I wasn’t asked to do much, I got to converse with loads of interesting people, got regular breaks with food ( toast and sandwiches) and more tea than I could drink. It gave me small respite from the abusive life I was forced to live, so to me it was a very positive experience, I even look back and remember the people fondly.
        Now it has been taken over by a private firm, and the care has definitely gone down hill and there is no longer any respect for the old people which is very sad!!!

    • AM-FM March 10, 2014 at 11:30 pm - Reply

      If sanctions, and the threat of sanctions worked, then there wouldn’t be any would there.
      Sanctions are a bit like watching the prison population increase exponentially, while insisting ‘prison works’.

  3. Alan March 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    More political casting of the net out to catch votes. Labour, like this lot, are a bunch of chancers and will say anything to catch votes. Nice of Labour to bring in Zero hour working and ATOS. How nice of Labour to have supported the working class.

    • Mike Sivier March 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm - Reply

      I just checked. It seems zero-hours contracts have been around for quite a while – certainly long enough to conform to the Employment Rights Act 1996 (under the last entirely Conservative government).
      The problem with this kind of employment contract is that it is now being subjected to widespread abuse; there are situations in which such a contract is beneficial to workers, but they are now in the minority.

  4. chris lovett March 11, 2014 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    This is a distraction – when I was a kid there was little or no unemployment. Why? Because there was a cross party consensus that full employment was the most desirable path for the economy. The only way we stand a chance of returning to that happy state is to fight neo-liberalism head on, taking back that which we owned into state ownership and reducing reliance on the “financial sector”. Yes, we could actually have a strong industrial base if investment into projects was properly pursued and funded. But from Thatcher onward that funding has consistently been falling into the pockets of the rich – where it stays.

  5. Cheltenham Against Cuts March 11, 2014 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Hang on a minute, Labour`s Job Guarantee will have to coexist with that central pillar of neoliberalism – inflation targeting – and the “reserve army of labour” that goes with it in the form of the “Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment” or NAIRU for short. The vile Rachel Reeves is a former Bank of England (BoE) economist and therefore a NAIRU dogmatist. One obvious question that arises in response to the Labour party`s job guarantee for the long-term unemployed is: “Why not have the same guarantee for the short-term unemployed?”

    To find the answer it is necessary to look at the rare examples of neoliberal candour on unemployment. Here`s an example from Chris Huhne, writing in the Independent in 1993 (How to put the nation back to work – 21 February 1993) where he outlined the particular problem of long-term unemployment as he saw it:

    “A new initiative will be necessary now that long-term unemployment is rising again. Employers are more reluctant to hire people who have been out of work for a long time, and they in turn become demoralised. Like unsold flowers, they are moved further back in the florist’s shop, each time reducing their chances of sale. They fail to compete with those in work, so that there is a rise in the amount of unemployment needed to contain wages.”

    In December 1997 the minutes of the Bank of England`s Monetary Policy Committee showed the same concern, namely, that the long-term unemployed were not “competing” and thereby, as it put it, not exerting as much “downward pressure on earnings” as the short-term unemployed. The following paragraphs taken from those minutes demonstrate the thinking (the letter “A” before each paragraph stands for Annex):

    A41 The relationship between unemployment and earnings was then considered: in particular, did short-term unemployment exert more downward pressure on earnings than long-term unemployment?

    A43 Whatever the reason, the implications for the effect of long-term unemployment on wage pressure were the same: when the proportion of long-term jobless was high, for a given level of total unemployment, workers would probably realise that they could not be replaced so easily, and hence that their bargaining strength was higher.

    A44 The empirical evidence in general supported a more powerful role for short-term unemployment in putting downward pressure on wages. Some studies suggested that only short-term unemployment mattered. But recent Bank research had suggested that, although short-term unemployment was more important, the potential downward effect of long-term unemployment on wages should not be disregarded.

    The BoE returned to that preoccupation yet again in August this year. Here`s an extract from the bank`s August 2013 Inflation Report (see page 28 under the heading “The equilibrium unemployment rate is affected by a range of factors that change over time”) where it says:

    “The longer that people are out of work, the more their skills will deteriorate and as a result, the probability of them finding a job decreases — those who have been unemployed for over a year are, on average, around a third as likely to find work as the short-term unemployed. That is likely to mean that they will exert less downward pressure on wages and so the equilibrium unemployment rate in the medium term will remain elevated.”

    The so-called “reforms” of the labour market in recent years have been designed to ensure that the unemployed are seen by those in work as more of a threat to their jobs. State subsidies to employers encourage them to take on the unemployed and sack existing workers. Labour`s aim (which they will never state publicly of course) is to reduce the amount of unemployment deemed necessary to control wage inflation by ensuring that periods of unemployment and employment are both (on average) shorter in term. The former will be achieved directly through the Job Guarantee while the latter will be achieved indirectly through the displacement of those in work by those newly-subsidised by the state.

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