Memorandum from Groundwork UK
1.1 At Groundwork's annual conference in January
1998 the then Minister for Employment the Rt. Hon. Andrew Smith
MP set out the Government's aspirations for the New Deal Environment
Task Force (ETF). Funded by over £600 million from the windfall
tax on the privatised utilities, during the course of the Parliament
the ETF aimed to offer 150,000 young unemployed people the opportunity
to acquire new skills and abilities by working on a broad range
of environmental improvement projects for the benefit of the wider
1.2 High quality placements on innovative schemes
would enhance the employability of those taking part whilst bringing
about lasting improvements to the environment. The ETF would,
according to the Minister, "offer ... a depth of experience
and range of skills (to) set it apart from previous schemes".
1.3 Groundwork is a leading environmental regeneration
charity which has been working to breathe new life into some of
Britain's most deprived communities for nearly 20 years. Through
a federation of local Trusts, Groundwork uses environmental improvement
projects as a tool to engage and motivate local people to improve
their surroundings and the economic and social well-being of the
whole community. Groundwork has been actively involved during
its history in a wide range of Government-led employment programmes.
1.5 Groundwork recognises the importance of
the New Deal as a radical approach to tackling the problem of
long-term unemployment and sees the ETF as an opportunity to engage
and motivate young people in projects which will bring economic,
social and environmental benefits to disadvantaged communities.
1.6 Groundwork is heavily involved in delivering
the Government's objectives for the ETF across England and Wales.
Groundwork has experience of ETF from a number of different angles.
Some Groundwork Trusts are subcontracted to deliver projects by
managing agents while others are contract holders themselves.
1.7 The New Deal has been very successful at
getting job-ready young people into work. However, those young
people who are harder to place with an employer because they lack
the basic skills required for the workplace tend to be forwarded
for the ETF.
2. LESSONS LEARNED
2.1 Groundwork has expressed its concern since
the launch of the New Deal that the net result of this situation
is that ETF is seen by many people as the last resort, only to
be considered when it becomes obvious that a jobseeker cannot
be placed with an employer or into further education or formal
2.2 Those entering the ETF, therefore, are often
those with a much lower level of skills, abilities and aspirations,
young people who are not job-ready and often require more basic
training. It is not uncommon for Groundwork Trusts to find that
all of their ETF referrals lack basic work skills. In addition,
many have personal problems such as alcohol or drug dependency,
some are on probation, under community service orders or homeless
and large numbers are "graduates" of previous job creation
and training schemes.
2.3 This image of ETF has a knock-on effect
in that the numbers of people being referred to the option have,
historically, been lower than that anticipated by the Employment
Service resulting in some financial difficulties where providers
are forced to run works teams below capacity.
2.4 The nature of the client group also means
that absenteeism is a recurring problem and many clients simply
drop out of the programme before the end of their 26 weeks. In
fact it has been calculated that the retention rate for Groundwork's
ETF programmes is in the region of 40 per cent. Again this has
financial consequences for placement providers. More importantly,
however, it means that a large group of young people risk falling
through the net of statutory provision and drifting into the informal
economy and crime.
2.5 Groundwork sees working with this client
group as a challenging opportunity to open up new possibilities
for marginalised and disaffected young people, particularly when
ETF is delivered within the framework of wider community regeneration
2.6 However, having been involved in delivery
of the ETF since its inception, Groundwork is concerned that the
New Deal arrangements, when taken in isolation, are unlikely to
provide satisfying and sustainable employment opportunities for
the "disadvantaged and the disenchanted".
2.7 Given the skill level of the majority of
clients now coming through the Gateway into ETF, six months is
often not enough time to develop sufficient abilities and confidences
to access full employment. Furthermore, a small benefit "top-up"
provides insufficient motivation to attend a project, which is
often seen as compulsory rather than as a positive work experience
placement with the prospect of a real job at the end. Sanctions
for non-attendance are also difficult to enforce leading to further
financial uncertainties for placement providers.
2.8 Groundwork's outcome statistics reflect
these difficulties with just over 20 per cent of those people
starting the placement moving into permanent employment at the
end of the programme. However, it must be remembered that around
half of the people referred to Groundwork's ETF programmes leave
or drop out of the programme before their individual training
plan has been completed. Some 45 per cent of those people who
stay the full 26 weeks move into employment at the end of their
2.9 In Groundwork's experience, ETF is of most
value when used as an additional element in a project which has
existing funding or as a catalyst to lever in the additional monies
required to implement longer-term, more structured work training
2.10 It has always been suggested that this
type of arrangement could be used to enhance ETF. Groundwork believes
that without this approach the success of standard ETF programmes
will always be limited.
2.11 Using New Deal funding as one element
in a more substantial funding package allows the ETF to be transformed
from a community "make-work" scheme into the opportunity
to take up real employment on a project for which the local community
has already identified a need.
2.12 The role of organisations like Groundwork
is crucial in this respect as training placements can be designed
and delivered as an integral part of large-scale community regeneration
programmes. This is not only important for the value of the work
being delivered to the community but also for the quality of experience
received by the client in terms of the personal satisfaction gained.
2.13 Equally important is the need to establish
strong partnerships with local authorities, the Employment Service
and other regeneration agencies.
2.14 Since ETF was launched Groundwork has
been seeking to deliver these added-value benefits through intermediate
labour markets (ILM). These ILMs, delivered in partnership and
as an integral part of local regeneration strategies, are proving
effective at delivering the targets and aspirations originally
set for ETF.
3. THE VALUE
3.1 The ILM model, as developed by the Wise
Group in Glasgow, recognises that bridging the gap between benefit
dependency and unsubsidised employment requires an extended period
of personal training and useful, properly paid work. It aims to
get clients into the habit of work and to improve their skills
and self-confidence by giving them a period of employment which
contributes to the community and the local economy.
3.2 Groundwork utilises ETF as the foundation
for ILM programmes which offer waged placements to clients as
opposed to benefit enhancements. This approach is fundamental
to the success of the projects as it gives those employed the
personal satisfaction and self-esteem that goes with being "in
work" and of being paid "the going rate" for the
job they are doing.
3.3 ILMs also extend the training period
from 26 weeks to up to a year to allow enough time for young people,
many of whom may never have worked before, to establish the basic
confidence, skills and discipline needed to hold down a job. A
wide range of personal support is also made available including
help with literacy and numeracy or referral to drug and debt counselling
3.4 Groundwork is delivering ILMs in fields
as diverse as horticulture and woodland management, waste minimisation
and recycling, energy conservation and home insulation, home security
and crime prevention, landscaping and town centre management,
construction and environmental art.
3.5 Clients are able to develop real transferable
skill such as administration procedures, marketing, ordering and
purchasing and customer relations. Targeted education and training
is also included with clients undertaking NVQs, health and safety
training and achieving specific personal objectives such as commercial
driving licences or first aid certificates.
3.6 Groundwork strives to ensure that ILMs
are "client-focused" in that they are, wherever possible,
designed and delivered to help participants develop the skills
required by local employers.
3.7 Groundwork is also working to ensure
that the private sector is involved as partners in the delivery
of ILM programmes. Transco Green Futures is an initiative developed
by Groundwork and Transco with funding from the Lattice Foundation
(formerly BG Foundation). It gives unemployed young people the
chance to take part in regeneration projects in their own neighbourhoods
while offering mentoring, support and work placements, many of
them with Transco itself. The programme has so far offered training
for nearly 400 participants in six unemployment blackspots in
Manchester, Leeds, Derbyshire, Barnsley, Liverpool and Nottinghamshire.
3.8 The average success rate of people moving
into work from Groundwork's ILMs is over 60 per cent.
3.9 Groundwork believes its ILMs are much
better able to provide opportunities for those furthest removed
from the labour market to obtain and retain a job than standard
ETF projects. In some communities, however, the job vacancies
simply don't exist for ILM "graduates" to move into.
In these areas new jobs must be created and Groundwork's ILMs
are increasingly being used as "enterprise rehearsals"
for new businesses offering local environmental maintenance or
new green services and technologies.
3.10 Groundwork is already supporting community
enterprises in a range of fields from organic food box schemes
to domestic waste recycling. Such ventures have many advantages.
Local service provision is generally labour intensive and reduces
"leakage" from the local economy. Since such enterprises
are often meeting needs in disadvantaged communities, they can
also help reduce local disparities in service provision and job
opportunities, building social cohesion.
4.1 Encouraging enterprise through the creation
of "green collar" community businesses not only helps
tackle exclusion by creating new work opportunities but can also
be a key tool in improving the quality of life for the wider community.
4.2 Groundwork and The Royal Bank of Scotland
recently launched a £100,000 pilot programme to support up
to a dozen new environmental enterprises linked to ILMs in the
North West and Midlands. The bank's small business advisers will
offer practical guidance and the project will be used to establish
a "green business creation toolkit".
4.3 European Commission reports suggest
that the most promising sectors for future job creation are urban
renovation and rural development, which provide a range of "green"
business opportunities including construction using sustainable
materials, urban renewal, rural development and heritage conservation.
4.4 There is also growing evidence to suggest
that future environmental policy or legislation may foster job
creation in many sectors. Studies indicate that new environmental
legislation will result in a net creation of between 1 million
and 3.5 million new jobs.
4.5 Through its Environmental Business Services
teams, Groundwork is working with hundreds of SMEs identifying
the opportunities for cost reductions and business expansions
through the implementation of environmental management systems.
Linking this activity with opportunities to provide training and
work placements for New Deal participants is the next logical
step in this process.
4.6 Groundwork believes that any review
of the success of New Deal and, in particular, the ETF option
of New Deal must look seriously at the potential offered by ILMs
as a vehicle for delivering many of the Government's priorities:
4.6.1 They offer a route back into the mainstream
for those people currently not benefiting fully from New Deal.
4.6.2 They offer extensive support to provide
the basic work skills lacking in many communities. This issue
is currently being addressed by DfEE through the "Intensive
4.6.3 They join up the Government's strategies
on employment, sustainable development and neighbourhood renewal.
4.6.4 They promote enterprise creating new
"green jobs" in areas where there are few jobs for New
Deal "graduates" to move into.
4.7 A recent evaluation of Groundwork's
ILMs by Professor Peter Lloyd of Liverpool University concluded
that "ILM projects are an important device for squeezing
more jobs from economy and society." He also underlined the
value of attaching ILMs to the environmental sector: "The
environment offers perhaps the most promising locus of opportunity
for ILMs. In particular it offers the prospect not only of valuable
skill development for the future but also a real new source of
job opportunity. Occupying eight of the 19 new sources of employment
identified by the European Commission, the environment deserves
to attract maximum attention in the task of dealing with intractable
4.8 Professor Lloyd, however, goes on to
suggest that without a more secure funding platform, these ILMs
are likely to remain relatively insignificant in comparison with
the scale of the challenges faced by many of the UK's most deprived
4.9 It is accepted that ILMs are not a cheap
option. Orthodox ETF costs are, on average, around £2.5K
per person for six months' work experience. On average, Groundwork's
ILM costs are estimated at between £12K-£14K per worker
for around one year. However, ILMs offer a much greater success
rate in terms of job outcomes and also deliver a "triple
dividend" tackling exclusion, contributing to sustainable
neighbourhood regeneration and stimulating enterprise. They are
therefore highly cost-effective.
4.10 Groundwork's ILM practitioners currently
spend a great deal of time assembling "funding towers"
from New Deal, SRB, ESF, ERDF, Rechar, Landfill Tax, Lottery,
private sector etc. If one block is removed, the whole edifice
becomes unstable leading to funding gaps and, with a roll-on roll-off
programme, this can be catastrophic.
4.11 A number of major regeneration funding
sources (eg SRB) have recently been re-focused to help support
employability initiatives. However, no single source is currently
available to provide sustained support for ILM initiatives.
5. THE FUTUREJOINED-UP
5.1 Groundwork believes the current review
of New Deal offers a golden opportunity for transforming ETF from
the "Cinderella option" of New Deal to its flagship
5.2 As part of the review of New Deal, ETF
should be re-branded to reflect its central role in neighbourhood
renewal. Groundwork's ILMs offer local unemployed people the chance
to find a job while working to improve their local surroundings,
thus reviving local economies and local communities (two of the
central tenets of the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal).
5.3 A national "skills for work"
qualification should be introduced to reflect the fact that many
people taking part achieve a mix of new workskills and lifeskills.
Groundwork has already put together the central elements of such
5.4 Local authorities should be encouraged
to support and sponsor ILM initiatives and implementation teams
as they are adding value to local regeneration activities. ILMs
can play a major role in supporting the delivery of Local Agenda
21 and area-based regeneration initiatives. They also have the
potential to achieve many of the national targets which have been
set for local authorities eligible to receive support through
the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund.
5.5 Regional Development Agencies should
be urged to give greater priority to "green jobs" and
social enterprises as the focus for the economic regeneration
of deprived areas. RDAs should also be supporting links between
ILM deliverers and local employers to widen still further the
range of job opportunities available.
5.6 The Social Investment Task Force recently
called on the Chancellor to support more community businesses
in deprived areas. We believe this offers the perfect opportunity
for the Government to join up its thinking on neighbourhood renewal,
sustainable development and social inclusion by creating a venture
capital fund fur ILMs and green enterprises.
18 Based on an extract from "Communication on
Environment and Employment", EU Commission 1997. Back
"An estimate of Eco-industries in the EU", Ecotec-Eurostat
DGXI 1997 Back
Intermediate Labour Markets in the Environmental Sector-Professor
PE Lloyd, August 2000 Back