Freud’s work experience plans: where are the jobs?

The Conservative party yesterday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing employment. They included a new work-pairing scheme, announced by Lord Freud – the Tory’s frontbench welfare spokesman, to match 100,000 teenagers with sole traders and provide them with “real work experience.”

The FT Westminster blog has noted, this could be construed as creating sub-minimum wage work:

“There is one big incentive for the traders: they teenagers are cheaper than normal staff. Under the scheme they have to cover the young persons benefits, plus £1 an hour. My rough calculation makes this less than minimum wage, at least for a 40 hour week.”

Equally pressing, one is forced to ask where the figure of 100,000 came from. The Office of National Statistics reported last week (Table A5.4a) that there are only 532,420 ‘sole proprietors’ in the UK and 88 per cent of them have zero to four employees while another 9 per cent have less than ten employees.  Given this, is the notion that they will agree to employ 100,000 people (even at below minimum wage levels) remotely plausible?

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