Here are the estimated figures for 2014 of the numbers of people that are employed in each Cornwall constituency in the public sector, that is in nationalised bodies, central government, or local government. The data is from Public sector employment by parliamentary constituency for UK constituencies from the Office for national statistics (ONS) and House of Commons Library. The percentage refers to all employees working in the constituency.

Camborne and Redruth 4000, 14.3%
North Cornwall 4400, 13.0%
St Austell and Newquay 4900, 14.2%
St Ives 3800, 13.5%
South East Cornwall 3000, 12.2
Truro and Falmouth 10 500, 21.8%

Here is the data
Public sector employment by parliamentary constituency

Three updates at the foot of the post

The Remploy factory at Penzance closed in August 2012, part of a program of closures by the Tory Libdem government. Labour also had closed Remploy factories in 2008.

The theory
The well-meant theory, widely but not universally supported, was that the closure of the loss-making factories would enable a redistribution of finite disability money to help more disabled people into mainstream employment which positively was a much better place for them to work. There would be serious support to help the workers who had lost their Remploy jobs on closure back into work. Iain Smith, the works and pensions secretary, said in May 2012 of the program, “I promise you, this is better”.

The report Getting in, staying in, and getting on by Liz Sayce sets out the case for change.

Cornwall Council supported the closures and redistribution of funds. In a measured response to the Department for works and pensions (DWP) consultation the council emphasized the importance of specialist employment help for the Remploy workers whose jobs had gone and recited the positive outcomes possible for them: choice, inclusion, raising individual confidence and status. The council’s response is on page 26 of Disability employment support: fulfilling potential.

The local outcome
The closures took place during a recession, not the best time to get disabled people into mainstream work, as some observed at the time. Back in 2012 seven people from Penzance Remploy said they were going to retire from work and presumably they did; 25 agreed to be tracked by the DWP. Last year I pointed out that a year after the closure only half of the tracked former workers had actual jobs.

And now, two years after the closure of the Penzance factory?

The last two years are not a static picture and some people seem to have moved in to and out of work, perhaps some jobs were temporary, but of the 25 former Penzance Remploy workers tracked, currently 13 are in work – it is unclear whether these are full time or part time jobs – and 3 are on jobseekers allowance (JSA) and 8 are on employment and support allowance (ESA). One seems to be neither in work nor on JSA or ESA.

Let me be clear.

At bottom, for at least half of the Penzance Remploy workers I think this is not better; this is a failure; this has hurt people for a well-intended theory.

It would be interesting to hear what Cornwall Council thinks.

Added 25 November 2014
What is not known by the government monitoring scheme of the Penzance Remploy workers:

1 How many of the 25 tracked former Remploy workers have never been in employment since the closure of the factory in 2012 – Not known

2 How many of the 8 former workers on ESA are in the ESA work-related activity group and how many are in the ESA support group – Not known

3 Whether or not any of the disabled former workers on the work program have been sanctioned – Not known

I think the monitoring scheme is inadequate. I hope any mentoring scheme is very much better.

Added 29 November 2014
There was a short parliamentary debate on 26 November 2014 about former Remploy workers initiated by Ian Lucas (Labour MP for Wrexham). Lucas asked several unanswered questions that could be applied to Penzance Remploy workers too:

“Why have the Government failed to secure re-employment for so many former Remploy workers? What obligation is there on job agencies to accommodate the needs of disabled workers? What percentage of individuals placed in work by employment agencies are disabled? What proportion of former Remploy workers are employed on reduced-hours contracts? What proportion of former Remploy workers are being paid less than they were when they were employed by Remploy?” (Hansard 26 November 2014 column WH 271).

Added 6 January 2015
The written answer to a question by Pamela Nash MP revealed that 1507 Remploy people in the UK were made redundant in the last factory closures and 774 of them were currently in work: see Hansard 18 December 2014

On 29 July 2013 the Tory Libdem government introduced a scheme for fees for employees taking a case to an employment tribunal. Actually, two fees, one for lodging the claim and a second for a hearing of the claim. For claims about unpaid wages, for example, the fees amount to £390 and for claims about unfair dismissal or discrimination £1200.
We now have the figures for claims made in the first full quarter of the new arrangements, October to December 2013. Compared with the same quarter in the previous year there has been a 79 percent decrease in claims made.

The reason for the decrease is simple. The fees are deterring people from making claims. Perhaps that was the Tory Libdem idea all along.

The consequence of the Tory Libdem policy appear to be that people are denied redress and access to justice. The Citizens Advice Bureau has said that “employers are getting away with unlawful sackings and withholding wages” (Guardian 27 July 2014).

In the southwest – there are no figures for counties and cities – the number of claims in the October-December quarter fell from 1345 in 2012 to 479 in 2013, about two thirds.

Yes, the fees scheme is still new but the present data is damning and the current fees arrangements appear to be preventing workers from pursuing reasonable claims for justice, an illiberal outcome. The balance between worker and employer, important for a productive relationship, is being shifted in favour of employers.

The statistics of claims to employment tribunals are here. Annex C has the regional figures.

In August 2012 the Remploy factory at Penzance closed, one of several. The Tory Libdem government had decided, following the report by Liz Sayce, that the factories took too large a proportion – a fifth – of the funds available for disabled people of working age; the money saved by closures would be better used to help more disabled people get jobs in mainstream workplaces (Hansard 16 October 2012 column 62WH and 4 July 2013 column 1079).

I promise you, this is better
Taken by themselves the economics and widening opportunities are faultless. After all, as I pointed out on the blog last year, Iain Duncan Smith, the works and pensions secretary, said in May 2012 of the program of closures and hoped-for move to mainstream employment: “I promise you, this is better” (Sunday Express 6 May 2012).

Help, support, monitoring
However, what about the people in Remploy factories who lose their jobs when the factories close? What does the government’s “better” turn out to be in actuality?

The government said it had put in place “a substantial package” of help and support and monitoring for the Remploy employees made redundant. Tailored support would be available to individuals for eighteen months after the factory closed.

When Labour closed Remploy factories in 2008 there was no monitoring of the redundant employees and no dedicated help for them: a shameful and scandalous episode for Labour. The Tory Libdem government has on paper done very much better.

I say on paper because the consequences of the closure in August 2012 of the Remploy factory at Penzance have not been wholly rosy. Of the thirty three employees made redundant at Penzance Remploy twelve (36 percent), are now in work and fourteen (42 percent) are on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Jobseekers Allowance (JSA). Seven (21 percent) said their intention was to retire but it is not known whether they did. Of the fourteen on ESA or JSA, five are currently on the training scheme Work Choice. If one disregards the retired seven, a year after the closure less than half of the former workers have actual jobs and it is unclear whether they are full time or part time jobs.

That is not a success story, is it? Is it “better,” as Smith promised, in Penzance?

Closure of Remploy factories is a policy which Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, and Labour have supported and implemented. It looks like a failure that has hurt people for a well-meant theory.

The local media reported last year that 32 people were employed at Penzance Remploy; the DWP now confirms 33 were made redundant.

The recent spending review, informing us what the Tory Libdem government will spend and cut, included a particularly telling instance of a mean-spirited attack on people when they are down. At present if you become unemployed you have to wait three days before you can claim job seekers allowance. The Tory Libdem view is that you should wait seven days. See page 25 here and page 7 here.

The current three-days wait for job seekers allowance does not apply to linked benefits; presumably the seven-days wait will apply to all of the replacement universal credit.

If you have been in a well paid job, yes, you probably have some savings that can tide you over. However, many people in Cornwall and elsewhere have ill paid jobs with no opportunity to save. What do they do for a week with no money? Look to a voluntary food bank for help – see the latest on those in Cornwall here which shows that the foodbank for Camborne, Pool, and Redruth is now supplying a thousand meals a week. Perhaps look for a payday loan. Perhaps choose to eat rather than to heat. For people in and out of temporary work, it is another anxiety and dread. The Tory Libdems have ripped the long-standing safety net that keeps people from falling into destitution.

Charities that deal with the poor are clear. For example, Alison Garnham of Child Poverty Action has said that the seven-days wait “will leave more families and children cold and hungry”. Zacchaeus 2000 has said that it takes “money from the pockets of the nation’s poorest at the time they need support most of all”. Immiseration is a morally unacceptable approach by the Tory Libdem government to people who have just lost their job.

Since the giravolta of the Liberal Democrats, their transformation into merely different Tories with their new mission to make life harder for those at the bottom, Labour has been the only place of hope for progressives but hope struggles. The shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said Labour is not opposed in principle to the extended wait and it might be a sensible way to save money and put a focus on job-seeking (interview on Radio 4, 27 June 2013).

Labour’s response to the seven-days wait is lamentable.

See update in later post at foot of this post

The Tory Libdem government decided to close down Remploy factories and to encourage the disabled workers into the mainstream workplace. Labour earlier did this to some Remploy factories in 2008: sigh.

Among those factories that were closed this year was the one at Penzance. It employed thirty two workers. It shut down in August though a handful of workers carried on for a few weeks afterwards.

How many of those thirty two have found jobs in the mainstream? At early December it was four.

Four out of thirty two and apparently it is unknown whether they have full time or part time jobs.

Iain Smith, the works and pensions secretary, said in May this year of the program of closures and hoped-for move to mainstream employment, along with the reallocation of funds: “I promise you, this is better” (Sunday Express 6 May 2012). Well, it isn’t better in Penzance. It is shameful. This is a policy, which Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, and, despite their current squeals, Labour in the near past, have supported. It looks like a massive failure that has hurt people for a theory. Even if one believes it is better, the cliff-edge closing down of Remploy factories in a recession and time of austerity is bound to cause serious difficulties for Remploy workers looking for jobs in the mainstream world of work.

And now this, the selling-off of the Remploy factory building at Penzance, compounding the failure.


Remploy explains

UPDATE IN LATER POST Penzance Remploy workers, a year on 10 September 2013

Here’s one I made earlier.

I wrote in that post that the Tory Libdem decision in May 2010 to abolish the Future Jobs Fund (FJF), which created 650 job placements in Cornwall, was wrongheaded and “sadly in a while, too late to do any good, the Tory-Libdems will agree”.

I don’t know whether they agree now and I don’t suppose they will say so out loud or apologise but the unevidenced abolition has been shown to be wrongheaded. The Department for work and pensions (DWP) has quietly published a report Impacts and costs and benefits of the Future Jobs Fund that points to the FJF not ineffective, as the Tory Libdems claimed, but successful. Writing about the report, Jonathan Portes of the National institute of economic and social research (NIESR) says, “the impact of the Future Jobs Fund (FJF) on the chances of participants being employed and/or off benefit was substantial, significant and positive.” The cost-benefit analysis in the report suggests that the FJF gave sterling gains for participants, employers, and society.

I think the Labour government 1997-2010 had a chiaroscuro record, a curate’s egg. However, among its excellent achievements was the Future Jobs Fund and its work placements for young people and consequent opportunities for them to acquire skills and experience. Among the damaging stupidities of the Tory-Libdems is their abolition of the FJF.

Abolition of the Future Jobs Fund announced by George Osborne, Tory chancellor, and David Laws, Libdem chief secretary of the Treasury, 24 May 2010

“The government was right to abolish the Future Jobs Fund”: Danny Alexander, Libdem chief secretary of the Treasury, Hansard 6 December 2011 column 295W.

Labour motion attacking the cuts of the emergency budget; inter alia the motion “condemns the government’s decision to ax the Future Jobs Fund” Hansard 7 July 2010 column 390 onwards. All six Cornwall MPs voted against the Labour motion and for the government amendment.

Labour debate on the abolition of the Future Jobs Fund with a motion stating “the government was wrong to cancel the Future Jobs Fund” and calling for an “independent assessment of the Future Jobs Fund” Hansard 16 February 2011 column 973 onwards. All six Cornwall MPs voted against the motion.

The Tory Libdem management of the economy is failing: their austerity grows and economic growth doesn’t and unemployment is rising. I have charted this rise in the regularly updated Cornwall data post.

The latest claimant count figures for Cornwall – which do not present unemployment in its entirety – are dispiriting.

However, the TUC blog Touchstones has published its analysis of August 2011 claimant count figures and vacancies and their ratio for local authorities in England, Scotland, and Wales (scroll to “Download our analysis for every area”). There are 152 local authorities in England and in terms of arithmetically how many claimants there are for each vacancy Cornwall sits at 32nd (where 1st is best, the fewest claimants for each vacancy). Cornwall is thus at the 80th percentile, that is the ratio for Cornwall is as good as or better than 80 percent of England local authorities.

For Cornwall there are 3.5 claimants per vacancy. The mean average for England is 5.3 and the ratio ranges from 2.0 to 22.8 (disregarding the extremely low figures for the City of London and Isles of Scilly).

Thus Cornwall is not bottom of the table and is doing comparatively well. That will not help or comfort the 8384 current claimants in our county and I expect the figures will get worse. Of course the ratio will vary across Cornwall too.

UPDATE 20 January 2012
The total number of job placements in Cornwall under the Future Job Fund (FJF) from October 2009, when the FJF began, was 650 comprising by parliamentary constituency 160 in Camborne Redruth, 110 in North Cornwall, 140 in St Austell Newquay, 80 in St Ives, 70 in South East Cornwall, and 90 in Truro Falmouth [Parliamentary Library, DEP 2011-2026, 5 December 2012]. The last applications for FJF placements were in March 2011.

The Tory-Libdem government has abolished the Future Jobs Fund (FJF). This is wrongheaded and sadly in a while, too late to do any good, the Tory-Libdems will agree.

This scheme was about getting back into work people, especially those aged 18-24, who had been unemployed for six months. Young people in Cornwall benefited and stood to benefit more. Cornwall Council, working with partners in the private sector, successfully bid for £500 000 in autumn 2009 to create eighty three additional jobs; in this spring it successfully bid for £1.3 million for two hundred jobs for young people in Cornwall.

Thus the FJF helps young people here get back into work, another example of Labour’s positive achievements for the people of our county. The scheme isn’t perfect, the jobs are temporary, but the jobs pay at least the minimum wage, and take people away from unemployment into work and to learn new work skills. Had the scheme continued more out-of-work people in Cornwall would have got work through the FJF. Abolishing the scheme will hurt young people in Cornwall.

Do the Conservative and Libdem coalition MPs for Cornwall approve of this destructive decision of their government to abolish the FJF? Do they think this abolition helps unemployed young people in Cornwall?

The council’s media statements on its participation are here (30 July 2009) and here (17 March 2010)

Addendum 27 November 2010
There is an account of a successful FJF scheme here.


8 September 2009

Research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed that the recession is having the worst impact upon low paid and unskilled workers. Read the report here. This affects many workers in Cornwall.

The TUC shows that people in “elementary” jobs are disproportionately more likely to suffer unemployment in contrast to people in professional work. Additionally,
people from low paid and unskilled jobs are more likely to spend more than six months unemployed than people from professional jobs.

Low paid workers have little or no opportunity to save for rainy days from their wages and for them Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) is a very important income. Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, says: “Increasing JSA by as little as £10 a week would make a real difference to millions of families.”

He is right. I know these are difficult times for the national (and global) economy and some serious financial cuts are necessary. However, a civilised country must seek to protect its poorest and most vulnerable people. We cannot shield people from unemployment; we can mitigate its effects on the incomes and lives of those who have least. Eventually economic improvement and consequent more work will help them. In the immediate meantime JSA should be increased for them.

Job seekers allowance (JSA) claims by occupation, TUC September 2009. A summary is in the TUC press release, Low paid hit hardest by recession, 4 September 2009.