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Special Temporary Employment Programme

Volume 957: debated on Thursday 9 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what progress has been made in setting up a scheme to involve private sector companies in projects for building and landscaping work under the Manpower Services Commission's special temporary employment programme.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that arrangements have now been agreed with trade unions and employers' organisations in the building and landscape industries which will allow schemes funded under the special temporary employment programme—STEP—to be linked with local authority contracts for building and landscape work in inner city areas.The arrangements will run initially for one year and will apply in those inner city areas which the Government have designated as being in need of special help. They will enable STEP funds to be used to provide temporary jobs for the long-term unemployed on building and landscape work put out to contract by local authorities. The main features of the scheme are:

  • (a) Local authorities in consultation with the Manpower Services Commission will identify suitable building and landscape work on publicly owned land and property in the inner city.
  • (b) Contracts will be put out to tender in the normal way, and the local authority will ask the contractor to state the number of jobs he can make available on the project to the long-term unemployed—normally the unskilled element of the work force; the successful contractor may be either a private firm or local authority direct labour department.
  • (c) MSC will be able to fund as a project under STEP the element of the tender which is to provide jobs for the long-term unemployed.
  • (d) As with normal STEP projects, schemes will need the approval of the MSC's area board which includes representatives from local trade unions, employers, local authorities and voluntary organisations.
  • I very much welcome this new initiative as a small but important contribution to the development of the special temporary employment programme. It should provide between 500 and 1,000 temporary jobs for the long-term unemployed. It will assist private companies and direct labour departments to maintain permanent employment for their skilled workers. And it will also enable local authorities to increase the work being carried out to improve our inner cities.