If the private sector’s not doing it, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing!

Regular readers will know I favour a policy known as the job guarantee. This is where the government pays the wages of anyone willing and able to work, but unable to find it. This appeals to me because I believe the following things are true:

  • In our society, working (either for yourself or an employer) is seen as the norm; part of being a good member of society;
  • Doing a job of work that people think is worthwhile brings a lot of benefits in terms of mental and physical health;
  • People consciously or unconsciously understand this and most people want to work;
  • People shouldn’t have to work for wages below a level which allows them a reasonable standard of living;
  • Without active government involvement, there will never be enough jobs for all or enough jobs paying a socially acceptable wage.

So I am fully signed up to the idea that a job guarantee would be a very fine thing. Convincing others of the merits of this idea is much more difficult than I thought though! A lot of people accept there aren’t enough jobs, that wages are too low and that work is becoming more and more casualised. Despite this, they would rather leave people unemployed than have the government actually create jobs. I’m not quite sure why this is, but I it’s partly a lack of imagination (what would they do/non-jobs/digging holes and filling them in etc), and partly the usual “nice idea, but how will you pay for it” response.

It also seems to be received wisdom that the profit motive ensures that everything worth doing is already being done by the private sector, and if the private sector is not doing it, it must not be worth doing. It’s this argument I want to address now by suggesting a few areas either not being delivered or are under-delivered by the private sector, but are nevertheless quite worthwhile!

  1. Adult social care – We are often told there is a crisis in adult social care. At present, private sector companies are contracted to provide a lot of the home visits to the elderly an infirm. Contracts are often awarded to the lowest bidder, which means these services are delivered on the cheap. Staff are often on zero-hours contracts, poorly paid and only permitted to spend 15 minutes or at most half an hour on each visit. They are often not even paid for travelling between visits! So why not train up some of those willing and able to work, and pay them to provide a much more comprehensive service to people in need? This would help take the pressure off our hospitals if people are being well cared for in their homes, and allow resources in the NHS to be better targeted.
  2. Sports/Fitness coaches – As well as an adult social care crisis, there is also an obesity crisis. We could train people to deliver sports coaching to kids on a much wider scale. There are a lot of sports that require very little equipment, but with a coach who can inspire and importantly, a service that is free or heavily subsidised for the user, we could start to reverse the obesity trend. This again reduces expense in the long term on the NHS and kids who are fit and active do better in school.
  3. Childcare – Childcare is very expensive and means that a lot of people who want to work find most of their wages are going on childcare. Training people to provide childcare would lead to lower costs, meaning work becomes a more viable option for many. In addition to this, for those who prefer to look after their own kids, could also be paid to do so. A lot of people struggle to see looking after your own kids as being a job, but it could be argued that it’s a pretty important job. The production of the future generation will always pay for the future consumption of the current generation, so if kids are brought up happy and healthy by a parent in their early years, they will likely become more valuable members of society when they grow up. Is it really that different paying someone to look after someone else’s kids, to paying someone to look after their own?

Those are just three suggestions, but I know others will have much more imaginative ideas! There are so many socially beneficial jobs that would enhance our environment that just aren’t being delivered by the private sector (at least not at a price affordable to all). We could change this, but we need to lose the private sector good/public sector bad mentality. It’s holding us back!

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7 thoughts on “If the private sector’s not doing it, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing!

  1. The Probation service manages to come up with projects and work worth billions of pounds and gets them done for free by criminals. There’s a load of them here and on the annual reports: http://www.syprobation.gov.uk/news

    And the ones in Bradford: http://www.westyorksprobation.org.uk/our-work/bradford-projects-overview-and-highlights/

    If we can come up with socially acceptable work for criminals to do for nothing, surely it is a doddle to come up with work for people who are merely disadvantaged and being paid!

    In addition you would re-introduce the Enterprise Allowance Scheme – which would allow people to set up shop and still be paid the Job Guarantee wage for a period of time.

    There is so much that needs doing. It’s a scandal to suggest that we can’t imagine a way of deploying 4.5 million pair of hands that would advance humanity.

  2. This is very interesting. There is also the basic income scheme but it all highlights the need for imaginative schemes to get people supported and into useful work that helps the economy and society.
    So would a really good programme of social house building including imaginative schemes where young people are supervised and helped into building their own schemes while learning useful skills and lifelong employment.

  3. JSA is £71.70 pw the Providers of the CWP will be paid £76.92 pw…Why not take out the middle man and pay this to the unemployed to carry out work 25 hours of work for the community?

  4. Great Comment about those layabout useless eaters who cost us all so much and who produce absolutely nothing. Babies and children of course. We all hate them don’t we? Not really people are they? Sell them all and buy a wide screen television instead.Sombody might like them.Or else drug them with laudanum or send them up chimneys.

  5. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Interesting idea. The idea that governments can actually create jobs in this country goes back to Lloyd George, who was also one of the first politicians to take over the economic theories of his fellow Liberal, John Maynard Keynes. It was also one the futures of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Unfortunately, there’s is a lot of opposition to it because of the way it was also a feature on continental Fascist unemployment programmes, such as Hitler’s construction of the autobahns, even though these programmes didn’t start with them. The real reason for the opposition, however, is that it challenges the Neoliberal, laissez-faire doctrine that state intervention is always bad, and reduces the pool of the unemployed, which Neoliberalism says is necessary to keep wages low.

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