Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180-189)|
WEDNESDAY 8 MAY 2002
180. You make a powerful point. Has either the
Partnership or the TUC given any thought to what the threshold
would be for that? Are we talking about 200, 2,000? You are talking
about a very special kind of social plan. For your situation in
retrospect it was an absolutely obvious thing to recommend. Would
you have a view about that level? When you clearly have a catastrophic
failure in a local job market of that order, there is no question
that it is an obvious thing to think about immediately, but maybe
if the policy makers in central government did a little bit more
thinking do you get a sense of the level at which you would start
thinking it would be necessary?
(Mr Allen) Start at 100 jobs.
181. You think 100.
(Mr Allen) Yes. We ought to look at it and see what
needs to be done.
182. So 100 job losses at the one time.
(Mr Allen) Yes.
183. People being just cleared out, the business
finishing, 100 jobs at risk. You think at that level you could
usefully employ some of these mechanisms.
(Mr Allen) Yes; not to the scale we did at Luton Vauxhall.
(Mr Heselden) Not to contradict that in any way, when
the point comes to analyse whether the model from Luton Vauxhall
Partnership can work in a particular scenario, you need to look
at other factors like what the impact is going to be on the community
of a closure. It may well be that if the labour market is very
tight there anyway, it might be determined that is not the best
use of RDA
resources or whatever. It is not just a number that is the trigger.
There are other factors which come into play. There ought to be
two sorts of response to industrial closures and redundancies.
Where there is a significant or substantial closure in a community
that is vulnerable the model the Luton Vauxhall Partnership has
followed is very important and has lots of good practice and that
should be followed. You made the point about Dunstable and other
redundancies. The TUC would argue that the Government should have
a much more aggressive industrial strategy. Part of that strategy
should be RDAs having the resources and the responsibility to
deal with redundancies as a matter of course, not just the very
large ones but perhaps all redundancies. We have a situation where
manufacturers, for example, at the highest level of skills shortage
in their sector, manufacturing jobs being lost, some agencies
working in the public domain like the Employment Service working
as a brokerage, but perhaps not enough and those natural links
are not made. RDAs could be much more proactive in providing that
sort of bridging service. The TUC would argue that yes, where
there is an exceptional redundancy you have an exceptional approach
to it and that would be the Luton Vauxhall Partnership. In ordinary
cases of redundancy the RDA should be working closely with other
agencies to deal with those redundancy situations; it is not just
big headline redundancies which get resources but they are all
addressed. That makes the labour market work better rather than
184. Absolutely; that makes perfect sense. Where
is your future as a partnership? Is there a point at which you
say self-immolate and disappear? Do you go on or do you move Luton
to Liverpool? What is the long term for you?
(Mr Reyner) We have achieved what we set out to do
in many respects and from an organisational project time line,
decisions being made on time and that kind of organisation, it
is now time for the Luton Vauxhall Partnership to move into the
more general Luton forum which is about the total future of Luton
and its community including Dunstable as well.
185. You are not going to lose all this corporate
(Mr Reyner) No.
186. It is hard won in many ways.
(Mr Reyner) Many of the people in the Luton Vauxhall
Partnership will be in the forum. The point about the Butterfield
Park site, which you will know is very exciting for this whole
community, is that we as a RDA would hope to continue our relationship
in that particular exciting activity for Luton.
187. So lessons can be learned, not just for
the locality but there is some modelling we could take and some
experience we could use to apply in other situations which hopefully
would not occur that often but when they do somebody has some
idea of what the menu is from day two when the thunderbolt comes
out of the sky.
(Mr Allen) Yes. We are aiming to transfer to Luton
Forum, which is the local strategic partnership, around about
(Mr Hart) The other feature of this which is very
sad is that both in Luton and Dagenham the degree of co-ordination
of government agencies, company, trade unions, after the event
is so important that if that kind of partnership had been delivered
in all sorts of ways ten years previously or seven years previously
you might not have ended up with the closure itself. Various initiatives
might have been taken.
188. Mr Allen has in some ways answered part
of the question I was going to ask. As you are going to be refocusing
and moving into the community my question was that there are already
lots of partnerships out there and were you going to duplicate
them? Then you said that you were going to become part of the
local strategic partnership. Do you see that as a possible focus
in the future for developing immediate responses to the situation,
not just that you have outlined, but also the situation that we
have all faced in our constituencies of small-scale job losses
for which there does not seem to be an immediate response. It
does not fit into any easy category. Do you think it is for the
local strategic partnerships? Certainly in Lancashire covering
my constituency we have the Lancashire West Partnership which
took over part of the responsibilities of the old TECs16 when
the TECs became the Learning and Skills Councils. Who there within
the new system of partnerships could perhaps best be the focus
of what you are trying to do?
(Mr Allen) It is early days because it has only just
been accredited. It is meant to be a strategic body and they could
take the lead. Even if they did not do the delivery action, they
could actually be in the lead in drawing together all departments
and coming up with an action plan. As long as they have access
to funding, I do not see why the strategic partnership could not
take on this role because they are looking at the social issues,
the physical issues and the employment issues.
189. Would it be big enough?
(Mr Allen) I think it would.
(Mr Reyner) It would have to be very focused. The
success of the Luton Vauxhall Partnership is that we maintained
(Mr Hart) A local strategic partnership (LSP) would
have difficulty unless it had had the experience. I am involved
in another one and unless it had already got all the delivery
agencies lined up, a new issue like this emerging of a LSP would
cause it great difficulty. It might be the right strategic partnership,
but the key is having the delivery agencies around and working
together in order to pool their resources to do the business on
a particular redundancy.
(Mr Heselden) That is very true. LSP would not have
the capacity, but it can articulate the local voice and then know
where to go, which would be the regional development agency to
get the expertise.
Chairman: We could discuss this for the rest
of the afternoon. I am terribly sorry, time is against us. I apologise
again for delaying your evidence session but it has been very
valuable for us. We wish you well in everything that your are
doing both now and in the future. Maybe we could have a correspondence
with Mr Heselden to tidy up the technical questions if we may,
if you would not mind taking that message back to the TUC? Thank
you all very much indeed, for your memorandum and your appearance
here this morning. The Committee stands adjourned.
16 Training and Enterprise Councils.
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