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Communities that Work’s question time with MPs

The 100 day mark before the next general election saw Communities that Work Members at the heart of the political debate; spending a day at the House of Commons meeting Ministers and Shadow Minsters. The focus was to discuss the details of the Communities that Work / ERSA Manifesto. As the polls areshowing that it will be a tight race in May we made the case for social landlords to be actively involved in shaping and delivering employment and skills programmes for our customers.

Each of the Westminster politicians took the opportunity to hear what Communities that Work members had to say about their Party’s employment proposals for the Lib-Dems, Conservatives and Labour.

Communities that Work members and politicians debated a wide range of issues including Local Enterprise Partnerships, data sharing, co-locating of Job Centre Plus staff, Troubled Families Programme, Regional Growth Fund, Sanctions and Control Groups to look at long term outcomes

All the policy makers welcomed the development of Communities that Work as it represents a strong body of opinion and expertise from across England and Wales.

For the Lib Dems, Lord Mike German, set out his Party’s policy for a future Work Programme. The Lib Dems want to see a universal entitlement but with a more localised delivery. Lord German said future bidders would have to demonstrate they had a creditable local infrastructure to be able to deliver a new Work Programme post 2017.

“New providers will have to answer the question can you demonstrate you can deliver the programme and what local partnerships have you established, which will include social landlords.” – Lord Mike German Work and Pensions, Liberal Democrats

For Labour, Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, set out his Party’s Job Guarantee programme which will be a wage subsidy programme similar to the Future Jobs Fund. He also cited Labour’s approach in Wales where Jobs Growth Wales had engaged the private and SME sectors. Stephen said three quarters 3/4 of those people taken on by SMEs under the Jobs Growth Wales had remained in work after the six month wage subsidy had finished.

“We would look to consortiums like Communities that Work to help us deliver the Jobs Guarantee as a direct employer but also through supply chains and influencing other employers.” – Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Shadow Employment Minster, Labour

Conservative MP, Rt Hon Esther McVey said her party would continue the type of policies that we had seen over the past five years. She welcomed Communities that Work; having met the Consortium on several occasions in her role as Employment Minster at the DWP. The Minister explained that there is a great opportunity to bring forward ideas between now and the development of a new Work Programme in 2017.

“Come forward with your proposals; we want to work with Communities that Work” – Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, Employment Minster, Conservative

Twelve Communities that Work members attended the meetings representing social landlords from across the country.

Kate Shone, Chair of Communities that Work said “we had a very positive day in Westminster, building on our relationships and driving home the message that social housing has a vital role to play in helping people progress into sustainable employment. We have got a lot to offer and over the coming months we will be stepping up our campaign to put social landlords at the heart of the employment and skills agenda.”

Iain Sim, Chief Executive of Coast & Country said “As a new member to Communities that Work, I must say how impressed I was that such a newly formed organisation was given direct access to key political figures, including Esther McVey the Employment Minister.

“The team that attended the House of Commons sessions are so dedicated to the agenda, and it’s great that we can all share fantastic practice and really learn from each other”

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