Fiddling at the margin

I’m in Spain, with a delegation from the European parliament’s Unemployment Committee.  And before anyone starts talking about jollies (we’re actually working quite hard), let me say I’m supernumerary on this trip — “hors quota”, as they say — so I’m paying the travel myself, because I thought it was important to see what the EU is doing with its “Globalisation Adjustment Fund”.
 
We got a long session all about admin and process and jargon.  Application, assessment, supervision, certification, compliance, reporting — even publicity.  Yes, but what do you actually DO? — I wanted to ask (and did).
 
It seems that they set up projects where more than 500 workers have been made redundant, and the things they do might be quite helpful.  Career advice, training, writing CVs, that sort of thing (and generating lots of work for bureaucrats, administrators, counsellors, trainers and consultants, of course).  Well done them.
 
Last year they spent some Euros 33 million on the projects, and “helped” 7,500 people.  That’s Euros 4,200 per head. Their success rate — people placed in real jobs for a period — amounted to 30 to 50%.  Let’s say 3000 people placed, at a cost of around Euros 10,000 per head — but that’s 15,000 with the required national co-funding.
 
So far, so good.  Certainly great for the 3000 people.  But on the day we arrived, this month’s Spanish unemployment figures came out — and the count had gone up by 130,000!   3000 placed in a year, against a rise in unemployed of 130,000 in a month.  Fiddling at the margin (and a slightly ruder metaphor springs to mind!).
 
The problems I have with this programme are (1) that it makes almost no difference at all to the overall numbers.  It’s simply gesture politics, and (2) it’s so unfair.  Of those newly losing their jobs, a tiny handful get help, while all the rest get nothing.  They all paid their taxes (presumably).  But they don’ t all get the same treatment.
 
An amusing note to close on: we had the privilege of meeting the Spanish Minister for Work & Immigration (photo follows).  He is of course a Socialist (there’s a general election any minute and he’ll lose his job).  But he spoke in glowing terms of Milton Friedman, and dismissively of John Maynard Keynes.  How times are changing!

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3 Responses to Fiddling at the margin

  1. I was on the dole myself throughout the 1990s. It is seriously demoralising. The Job Club lasted just 6 months and it actually got me back on the ladder, despite idiotic advice. I learned how to set up a business and was dissuaded from starting up a business which would have failed anyway.
    From a government point of view, it was expensive and not very good. But it kept me on the straight and narrow at one of the hardest times of my life.

  2. Pingback: Sagrada Familia: Reaching the parts that few visitors see « Roger Helmer MEP

  3. Pingback: Germany’s Unfair Advantage | Roger Helmer MEP

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