Bosses plan 10,000 new jobs

The UK's largest service industry employers are to submit proposals to the Government that could create up to 10,000 jobs under the pounds 3bn welfare- to-work programme, to be paid for by the windfall utility tax in Wednesday's Budget.

But the scheme to be proposed by the Business Services Association, which represents large employers in sectors such as cleaning, waste disposal, catering and contract gardening, is likely to fuel the debate over whether the programme will create "real jobs."

David Blunkett, the Employment Secretary, will give more details of the welfare-to-work plans on Thursday. The schemes involve paying employers a pounds 60 a week subsidy if they take on the young and long-term unemployed for six months.

Some economists doubt whether the Government will be able to guarantee that the jobs created do not displace existing workers or jobs that would have been created anyway, without the need for subsidies.

Norman Rose, director-general of the Business Services Association, said his members' plans would result in a workable scheme that would involve training from day one. "Larger companies have a training ethos already. This could be national vocational qualifications or apprenticeships we are talking about."

The plans are by far the most ambitious from industry so far. The Chancellor invited senior industrialists to Downing Street last week, but most manufacturing businesses have been more cautious about job numbers. Ford suggested it could take on 100 people.

Mr Rose denied the jobs would be less well paid than those in manufacturing and predicted most of those employed would be kept on after the six-month subsidy ended.