Sunday, 18 July 2010

Labour Smacks Down Tory Motion to Help Rehabilitate Offenders. Yes It Really is That Way Round...

Slightly odd news coming through about the last full council meeting via the 'Post'.

In one of those strange surreal moments that politics sometimes throws up at us Tory Group Leader Cllr Andrew Price (and there's someone who looks more like his own reflection in a spoon than he should do) has gone all Ken Clarke on us and proposed a hippy drippy (nay, frankly liberal by George!) motion asking that NCC reserves guaranteed jobs and interviews for ex-offenders. There's some other more mainstream stuff in there like increased use of 'Community Payback' but I reckon Norman Tebbit must be turning in his grave*, whatever happened to hang 'em and flog 'em?

Obviously it wasn't passed. It was, after all, an opposition motion and that will never do. JoCo puffed his chest out and said they couldn't go reserving jobs for bad'uns and ne're-do-wells when the not so hippy-drippy wing of the ConDem party in Whitehall is planning on making the entire public sector redundant.

"All our focus will be on the people we currently employ and don't want to leave us."

he chirruped.

Hmmm. So, Collins believes that the Council's first duty is to keep current employees in work when redundancies are threatened does he? Thinks it's wrong for councils to give disadvantaged groups a bit of a leg-up in the jobs market eh? That needs looking at doesn't it?

First of all let's have a look at NCC's record at re-employing those it makes redundant, with a bit of help from a FoIA response I had lying around (not one of mine, personal details redacted for privacy).

In 2007/8 NCC made 103 people redundant and retired 40 on health grounds. Of those, 56 found their way onto the redeployment register, 35 of whom were found another job. So that's around 24% kept on the books.

Things got a bit grimmer in 2008/9. 168 people made redundant, 45 retired on health grounds and only 30 qualifying for redeployment, 13 of whom were found new jobs. I make that a success rate of about 6%.

This is hardly painting a picture of an organisation striving to keep its workers in jobs and things do appear to be getting worse. Remember, this was well into the economic crisis but before NCC started announcing its own large scale redundancies (although 'announcing' and 'planning' are obviously not the same thing).

Next up let's look at whether JoCo really does believe it's a bad idea to help disadvantaged groups with guaranteed interviews or other help.

Well, if he's being consistent he will want to withdraw NCC support and assistance to groups like PATRA who provide traineeships for people from BME communities. He might also want to have a look at the apprenticeship program which, according to the March 2010 'One Nottingham' minutes (see p4) was providing 16 placements for at least one vulnerable group, erm, ex-offenders. Surely, if JoCo's logic expressed at full Council is to be followed, these traineeships and apprenticeships should first be offered to those NCC employees facing redundancy no?

Of course these schemes will remain supported and rightly so. It remains to be seen what efforts NCC will make to re-employ redundant staff but for the time being the priority seems to be to smack down an opposition motion, even though it isn't very far off what NCC are doing already.

Cllr Price's motion may not have been perfect (not sure about the guaranteed jobs bit personally) but we let an opportunity for cross-party support for measures for rehabilitating offenders slip through our fingers at our peril, the consequences will be there to bite us back long into the future.

*Yeah I know you can still see him walking about and that but I reckon a grave is where he sleeps. He doesn't look like he sees much light anyroad.

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