One issue that people will often raise with me is what the Government is doing to rid ourselves of the something for nothing society. People justifiably believe that the welfare state must act as a mechanism of getting people back to work where possible. This is why I was pleased when we launched our ‘Workfare’ scheme that enabled people on benefits to work unpaid in retail stores like Tescos. You may have seen the coverage recently of protesters demonstrating in Tescos against this scheme.
I believe that the criticism aimed at this scheme has been unjust and that schemes like this can be key to getting people back to work. The scheme was entirely voluntary and nobody completing the short placement would lose their benefit. It gave fantastic opportunities for those people claiming job seeker allowance, who lacked work place experience, to obtain that crucial skill. What was perhaps most beneficial about the scheme is that around 1 in 5 of those who took part have been given jobs with the outlets.
It is therefore incredibly disappointing that a number of retailers have pulled out of the scheme following these misplaced demonstrations. Sir Stuart Rose, the former boss of Marks and Spencer was right when he called on businesses to show some backbone and stand up to the anti capitalist demonstrators. Yet it seems that those retailers who pulled out of the scheme and some left wing activists have made it that little bit harder for us to create a something for something culture in this country.