It’s been an interesting fortnight don’t you think?
The coalition government has already lasted longer than some doomy types predicted and we have begun to see some clarity emerge as new ministers have begun to settle.
I welcome Nick Hurd as minister for Civil Society. We’re lucky to have somebody that has, for over a year, been enthusiastically engaging with us and has largely got to grips with the challenges we face. In Francis Maude and in Oliver Letwin we also have powerful and experienced advocates for our movement.
I hope they can use their talents to influence others within cabinet; I was disappointed that Iain Duncan Smith at the launch of their welfare reform agenda last Tuesday didn’t mention social enterprise at all.
Previous to this omission DWP claimed the Future Jobs Fund to be inefficient. I was displeased by this analysis. Social enterprises that were invited to support this initiative have between them created thousands of jobs and thousands of qualified and motivated people young and old who previously had little or no experience of what work is like.
I know FJF wasn’t a cheap option and there was no doubt that there are areas where things could have been improved, but having visited lots of social enterprises that were participating in the scheme I have no doubt that it was effective. Dozens of people on the scheme told me this directly.
I want to ensure that whatever replaces FJF uses the learning of our sector to create something at least as good and that recognizes the features of this programme that were successful. It is a rare thing indeed that employment schemes get a general thumbs up from our sector leaders large and small. I firmly believe that supported employment schemes like FJF are one of the most effective ways of addressing unemployment.
In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be meeting ministers from across departments to ensure the value of what we all do does not get lost amidst the urgent priorities that new ministers face.