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The UK Future Jobs Fund: Labour’s adoption of the job guarantee principle

Ali, Tanweer (2011): The UK Future Jobs Fund: Labour’s adoption of the job guarantee principle.

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This paper examines the development of employment policy in the United Kingdom leading to the creation of the Young Person’s Guarantee and its main component, the Future Jobs Fund. Past public-sector direct employment schemes, including those associated with the workfare model, had been discredited as ineffective across the OECD. In numerous countries, however, newer job creation schemes were implemented from the 1990s, aimed at addressing some of the shortcomings of earlier projects, and utilizing the growth of smaller community-based projects – the Intermediate Labour Markets, or ILMs. Whilst there was no strategic policy commitment to demand-led active labour market policy in the UK until recent years, a network of ILMs came into existence, and much of the funding for these small-scale local projects came from the government. With the onset of the current economic downturn, and the substantial rise in cyclical unemployment, policy-makers more closely examined options for a demand-led strategy. Although ILMs had not been created with a view to forming part of an ‘employer of last resort’ policy, and were generally directed at very specific groups, the potential of these schemes to form part of a wider national strategy was clearly seen. In 2009 the government announced a job guarantee for all young people, primarily through the Future Jobs Fund. This initiative was inspired by ‘employer of last resort’ (or ‘job guarantee’) concept and the work of Hyman Minsky, and the intention was to extend it over time. Although the Future Jobs Fund was scrapped in May 2010 following a change of government in the UK, it incorporates the lessons of past policy failures, representing a bold step in active labour market policy – and may form a model for reviving demand-led employment policy.

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