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How better local employment support could help tackle UK labour shortages

People who are out of work for reasons such as long-term ill-health are often not well served by national employment support.



Economically inactive people -- those neither working nor actively seeking jobs -- could help tackle UK labour shortages. 1000 Words/Shutterstock

There has been a rise in “economic inactivity” in the UK among people of working age since the start of the COVID pandemic. Although the trend peaked last year, an additional 420,000 people are now in this category compared with early 2020.

People classed as economically inactive are neither working nor actively seeking employment. They include students, retired older people, and those in poor health or caring for others at home. Helping these people return to work would alleviate current UK labour shortages that are increasing workloads for existing staff, limiting output and business growth.

According to the Annual Population Survey from the Office for National Statistics, there are around 1.65 million inactive people in the UK that say they would like to work, but they need support. There have been calls to widen access to existing UK government-funded programmes and make services more tailored to people’s needs.

But people who are economically inactive are not typically well served by mainstream national employment support. Inactivity rates vary widely between areas, and have done for many years. For example, in 2022 in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, 36% of the working-age population was economically inactive, whereas it was just 9% in Wandsworth.

Our joint research with Anne Green from the University of Birmingham and Paul Sissons from the University of Wolverhampton, shows a more local approach to employment support could help tackle this challenge.

This would involve working with local policymakers and organisations to design policy and programmes. Such localised initiatives could focus on helping people with multiple or complex barriers such as debt, poor health and limited childcare – depending on the most pressing issues in the area. These employment support services could also prioritise moving people into better-paid work, rather than the first job that becomes available.

What are the benefits of a more local approach?

Localising employment support could address gaps in the help that is already on offer, while reducing duplication between different government services. Involving local stakeholders in designing employment support could also enable policy to be better targeted.

For example, Connecting Communities was an employment support pilot that ran in the West Midlands between 2018 and 2021, as part of a government pilot employment scheme. It took a place-based approach to employment support, offering tailored, intensive support to people in nine neighbourhoods.

In order to reach people who do not traditionally engage with employment support, providers varied how and where participants were engaged. For example, they sought to facilitate engagement by reaching out to people at food banks, community centres and supermarkets.

An evaluation of the scheme by the Institute for Employment Studies and Birmingham University’s City Region Economic and Development Institute (City-Redi) suggested that personalised, place-based employment support programmes can be effective in reaching people with significant barriers to work. It can also help participants become more aware of, and work towards, employment opportunities.

Other criticisms of mainstream provision are that it emphasises sanctions rather than support. After a pandemic lull, the number of applied benefit sanctions reached 52,000 in March 2022. Most sanctions are imposed for fairly minor issues, such as missed or late arrivals at meetings. Research on sanctions also suggests there is little accountability for the decisions made by employment advisers.

Some evaluations suggest a local approach that builds more trusting relationships between jobseekers and advisers could be more successful in moving people into sustainable employment. Another opportunity lies in developing local approaches that extend access to support to economically inactive people, rather than narrowly targeting it at those on benefits who are required to actively look for work.

Why isn’t this happening?

The UK has traditionally pursued a highly centralised approach to employment support. Local Jobcentres mainly implement national policy priorities. The support on offer is relatively limited, covering work search reviews and guidance, vacancy referrals, and access to some training, education and work experience programmes.

This is also largely targeted at moving active jobseekers on benefits into a job, so will exclude many who are economically inactive. To keep their benefit payments, jobseekers are required to engage with this provision and to meet a range of requirements set by their adviser.

Local councils and authorities do not have the power to implement locally specific employment support programmes right now. Fewer evaluations exist of locally designed policies than nationally designed policies. However, some recent government pilots have explored the potential to pursue different approaches to employment support in different city regions.

Overhead shot of two men in suits facing each other across a desk, one holding an open file with documents.
Employment support. stockfour/Shutterstock

The Local Government Association has called for further devolution and partnership working under a “Work Local” model. This would enable a more integrated and supportive approach.

And, while not a central theme in its 2023 budget, the government did announce a trial of an integrated approach to work and health support in local areas. It also promised a “co-design approach” to all future contracted employment support in Manchester and the West Midlands. The Labour Party also wants to expand employment support, including devolving it to local authorities and embedding career advisers in health services to help people into work.

Recent proposals for local approaches to employment support are a step in the right direction, but they are unlikely to bring inactivity levels down. Comparatively speaking, the UK spends relatively little as a percentage of its GDP on active labour market programmes, including public employment services. The government needs to focus more on how national employment support is targeted and funded. The reliance on sanctions to push people into the first job they can find is also not working.

Overall, our research indicates that a different approach is needed. Initiatives that fit people to jobs that more closely meet their requirements, and that also align with local needs, could help get people back to work and tackle the labour shortages that are damaging the UK economy.

Abigail Taylor along with colleagues at the City-Region Economic Development Institute (City-REDI at the University of Birmingham received funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority to undertake an evaluation of the Connecting Communities employment support pilot and they also acknowledge the support of WMREDI funding from Research England. Abigail is a member of the Social Policy Association's Employment Policy group.

Ceri Hughes receives research funding from the ESRC for her PhD research and is co-lead of the Social Policy Association's Employment Policy group.

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Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?…

This past Wednesday, President of the European…



Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?...

This past Wednesday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen delivered a speech before the 2023 Atlantic Council Awards in New York, where she sounded the alarm over the specter of nuclear war centered on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. But while invoking remembrance of the some 78,000 civilians killed instantly by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WWII, she said her warning comes "especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again". She  actually framed the atomic atrocity in a way that made it sound like the Russians did it. Watch:

There was not one single acknowledgement in Von der Leyen's speech that it was in fact the United States which incinerated and maimed hundreds of thousands when it dropped no less that two atomic bombs on Japanese cities.

Here were her precise words, according to an Atlantic Council transcript...

You, dear Prime Minister, showed me the meaning of this proverb during the G7 summit in Japan last year. You brought us to your hometown of Hiroshima, the place where you have your roots and which has deeply shaped your life and leadership. Many of your relatives lost their life when the atomic bomb razed Hiroshima to the ground. You have grown up with the stories of the survivors. And you wanted us to listen to the same stories, to face the past, and learn something about the future.

It was a sobering start to the G7, and one that I will not forget, especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again. It is heinous. It is dangerous. And in the shadow of Hiroshima, it is unforgivable

The above video of that segment of the speech gives a better idea of the subtle way she closely associated in her rhetoric the words "once again" with the phrase "shadow of Hiroshima" while focusing on what Russia is doing, to make it sound like it was Moscow behind the past atrocities.

Via dpa

Russian media not only picked up on the woefully misleading comments, but the Kremlin issued a formal rebuke of Von der Leyen's speech as well:

In response to von der Leynen's remarks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the European Commission president of making "no mention whatsoever of the US and its executioners who dropped the bombs on populated Japanese cities."

Zakharova responded on social media, arguing that von der Leyen's assertions on Moscow's supposed intentions to employ nuclear weapons "is despicable and dangerous" and "lies."

Some Russian embassies in various parts of the globe also highlighted the speech on social media, denouncing the "empire of lies" and those Western leaders issuing 'shameful' propaganda and historical revisionism.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 13:15

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Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl…



Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl to 18 years in jail and a travel ban for posting tweets in support of political prisoners, according to a rights group.

On Friday, ALQST rights group, which documents human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, revealed that the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court handed out the sentence in August to 18-year-old Manal al-Gafiri, who was only 17 at the time of her arrest.

Via Reuters

The Saudi judiciary, under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has issued several extreme prison sentences over cyber activism and the use of social media for criticising the government.

They include the recent death penalty against Mohammed al-Ghamdi, a retired teacher, for comments made on Twitter and YouTube, and the 34-year sentence of Leeds University doctoral candidate Salma al-Shehab over tweets last year.

The crown prince confirmed Ghamdi's sentence during a wide-ranging interview with Fox News on Wednesday. He blamed it on "bad laws" that he cannot change

"We are not happy with that. We are ashamed of that. But [under] the jury system, you have to follow the laws, and I cannot tell a judge [to] do that and ignore the law, because... that's against the rule of law," he said.

Saudi human rights defenders and lawyers, however, disputed Mohammed bin Salman's allegations and said the crackdown on social media users is correlated with his ascent to power and the introduction of new judicial bodies that have since overseen a crackdown on his critics. 

"He is able, with one word or the stroke of a pen, in seconds, to change the laws if he wants," Taha al-Hajji, a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant with the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, told Middle East Eye this week.

According to Joey Shea, Saudi Arabia researcher at Human Rights Watch, Ghamdi was sentenced under a counterterrorism law passed in 2017, shortly after Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince. The law has been criticised for its broad definition of terrorism.

Similarly, two new bodies - the Presidency of State Security and the Public Prosecution Office - were established by royal decrees in the same year.

Rights groups have said that the 2017 overhaul of the kingdom's security apparatus has significantly enabled the repression of Saudi opposition voices, including those of women rights defenders and opposition activists. 

"These violations are new under MBS, and it's ridiculous that he is blaming this on the prosecution when he and senior Saudi authorities wield so much power over the prosecution services and the political apparatus more broadly," Shea said, using a common term for the prince.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 11:30

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Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

In a symbolic, photo-op…



Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

In a symbolic, photo-op gesture to win union votes, Biden will head to Michigan for a token visit.

Biden to Walk the Picket Line

Taking Sides

CNN had some Interesting comments on Biden Talking Sides.

Jeremi Suri, a presidential historian and professor at University of Texas at Austin, said he doesn’t believe any president has ever visited a picket line during a strike.

Presidents, including Biden, have previously declined to wade into union disputes to avoid the perception of taking sides on issues where the negotiating parties are often engaged in litigation.

On September 15, the day the strike started, Biden said that the automakers “should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”

Some Democratic politicians have been urging Biden to do more. California Rep. Ro Khanna on Monday told CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich that Biden and other Democrats should join him on the picket line.

“I’d love to see the president out here,” he said, arguing the Democratic Party needs to demonstrate it’s “the party of the working class.”

UAW Announces New Strike Locations

As the strike enters a second week, UAW Announces New Strike Locations

UAW President Shawn Fain called for union members to strike at noon ET Friday at 38 General Motors and Stellantis facilities across 20 states. He said the strike call covers all of GM and Stellantis’ parts distribution facilities.

The strike call notably excludes Ford, the third member of Detroit’s Big Three, suggesting the UAW is more satisfied with the progress it has made on a new contract with that company.

General Motors plants being told to strike are in Pontiac, Belleville, Ypsilanti, Burton, Swartz Creek and Lansing, Michigan; West Chester, Ohio; Aurora, Colorado; Hudson, Wisconsin; Bolingbrook, Illinois; Reno, Nevada; Rancho Cucamonga, California; Roanoke, Texas; Martinsburg, West Virginia; Brandon, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and Lang Horne, Pennsylvania.

The Stellantis facilities going on strike are in Marysville, Center Line, Warren, Auburn Hills, Romulus and Streetsboro, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Plymouth, Minnesota; Commerce City, Colorado; Naperville, Illinois; Ontario, California; Beaverton, Oregon; Morrow, Georgia; Winchester, Virginia; Carrollton, Texas; Tappan, New York; and Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Contract Negotiations Are Not Close

Good Luck Getting Repairs

Party of the Working Cass, Really?

Let’s discuss the nonsensical notion that Democrats are the party of the “working class”.

Unnecessary stimulus, reckless expansion of social services, student debt cancellation, eviction moratoriums, earned income credits, immigration policy, and forcing higher prices for all, to benefit the few, are geared towards the “unworking class”.

On top of it, Biden wants to take away your gas stove, end charter schools to protect incompetent union teachers, and force you into an EV that you do not want and for which infrastructure is not in place.

All of this increases inflation across the board as do sanctions and clean energy madness.

Exploring the Working Class Idea

If you don’t work and have no income, Biden may make your healthcare cheaper. If you do work, he seeks to take your healthcare options away.

If you want to pay higher prices for cars, give up your gas stove, be forced into an EV, subsidize wind energy then pay more for electricity on top of it, you have a clear choice. If you support those efforts, by all means, please join him on the picket line for a token photo-op (not that you will be able to get within miles for the staged charade).

But if you can think at all, you understand Biden does not support the working class, he supports the unworking class.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 10:30

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