Future Jobs Fund

4 May 2010

The Future Jobs Fund provides enough money to pay for six months’ employment at 25 hours a week, but some organisations are combining the FJF with other funding sources to provide jobs that will last for longer than this. Organisations that wish to recruit FJF workers have to make a bid to the Department for Work and Pensions. Most of the successful bids have come from voluntary organisations, local authorities and other public sector employers. Funding for the programme is limited and the government intends the money to be spent by March 2012.

The TUC leaflet makes clear that FJF offers real jobs with normal employee rights. This means that they pay a wage (at least the minimum wage), not benefits. It also means that laws against discrimination, on health and safety at work, unfair dismissal, rights to holidays and maximum working time all apply: employers should not treat FJF workers any worse than their other staff.

There is also a TUC leaflet which union reps can give to FJF workers explaining what unions do and why it’s important that they sign up to the union at their place of work. A version of the leaflet is also being distributed to FJF workers via DWP. A copy of the leaflet can be downloaded from the TUC website at http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/FJF.pdf

Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary said “The Future Jobs Fund is the most progressive employment programme for thirty years with the aim of getting over 200,000 unemployed young workers into work. Young people have been hardest hit by this recession than any other group. Nearly a million people aged under 25 are unemployed and there are more than a third of a million who have been unemployed for over six months. There is a real risk this country might see another ‘lost generation’, still out of work even when the rest of the country has recovered from the recession.
That is why unions give a strong welcome to the Future Jobs Fund; the outgoing government is right to see jobs for young unemployed people as an urgent priority and the evidence shows that this type of programme is most effective at helping long-term unemployed people.

Unions want the Future Jobs Fund to succeed; but there are risks as well as opportunities. Our main worry is that the Future Jobs Fund could undermine the jobs of existing workers - ‘displacement’ as it is known. We also want to make sure that successful bids are not paying significantly less than other workers would get for doing the same work. Unions are especially keen that the FJF should not undermine collectively negotiated pay rates.

The TUC negotiated special provisions to deal with these risks. Union representatives sit on the panels that award money from the Fund and the official Guidance to organisations bidding for FJF money says, ‘All jobs created must be new and not exist without the Future Jobs Fund investment. Jobs must not replace existing jobs or vacancies and must not lead to another individual, (i.e. an employee or contractor), losing their job or reducing their wage rates or hours of paid employment.’ The TUC takes this issue very seriously indeed – union workplace representatives are asked to report to the union any examples of the FJF being used to replace existing workers or to cut wages or other conditions.

The TUC briefing is to explain to union workplace representatives what the Future Jobs Fund is and how it can help young unemployed people and the need to recruit FJF workers into trade unions to safeguard their interests”