Create work places for long-term jobless
YOUNG people in some of Kent’s poorest areas should be made to take on places on workfare programmes created by councils and other public agencies, says the leader of Kent County Council.
Cllr Paul Carter raised the idea of a workfare-style programme at the annual conference of the Kent Partnership.
He said official government data showed many parts of Kent were seeing rising levels of poverty and deprivation and that in the poorest parts of the county, the population was rising - bucking the national trend.
“There are some really worrying trends in our areas of greatest social deprivation where we are slipping down the league table.”
On the basis of the most recent data, only Dartford and Canterbury of Kent’s 12 districts had made any progress in tackling social deprivation.
Cllr Carter said the greatest challenge was closing the gap between the poorest and most affluent parts of Kent amid signs that it was getting wider.
One way of breaking the cycle of welfare dependency would be for the money spent on welfare and benefits for under-25s to be used instead to create work programmes.
“I think you would get a very pleasant surprise if you approached those long-term unemployed people and said to them: ‘I can give you a job that can be sustained into the future, with choice and diversity.’ I think 60 to 80 per cent would want to get off the sofa and into work.”
Places would be funded by councils and the NHS. “With public sector agencies the size and scale of KCC and the NHS, we could offer a guarantee of employment for young people.” IT IS the birthplace of Genghis Khan and is renowned for its extensive natural grassland.
Now the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia is being targeted by Kent County Council.
The authority is considering sending a delegation of legal chiefs to try and secure potentially lucrative commercial legal contracts from the Chinese state, which is 5,000 miles away.
It is the latest initiative to come from KCC’s legal team, which has developed a growing commercial sector and now wants to investigate if it can pick up contracts for handling legal work for regional government in the Chinese state.
County solicitor chief Geoff Wild, who has been responsible for developing KCC’s business of selling legal services to other clients, said: “The regional government is looking to invest in UK real estate. Our local authority is pressing for this engagement and we’re hoping to pick up the legal work associated with that. If they’re going to be buying up land we’d be able to deal with all the issues that arise.”
However, while KCC has an office in Brussels, it appears there are no plans to set up a similar HQ in Baotou.
The possibility of wider cultural and business links between KCC and Inner Mongolia were first floated last year when it emerged that the Chinese ambassador Fu Ying – a former student of the University of Kent – had broached the idea of building relations between the two.
Darrell Healey of GSE
KCC leader Paul Carter opening Dartford Technology College with head Trish Burleigh
Alison Coley of South Kent College