Letter: A benefit for the employer, but not for the jobless

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The Independent Online
Sir: Matthew Symonds is a strong advocate of Dennis Snower's Benefit Transfer Programme. The idea, as he conveys it, is essentially that the long-term unemployed should be permitted to use their welfare benefit, in varying degrees, as a subsidy to induce otherwise reluctant employers to take them on.

In the context of the common ground seemingly reached by all sides in the political spectrum, Mr Symonds believes that the first party to pick up Professor Snower's idea and run with it will win the high ground in the unemployment debate. Crucial to Mr Symonds' support is that the scheme will not cost the taxpayer any more than is already spent in benefit support on the unemployed. However, he fails to address the very real possibility that employers might sack their unsubsidised employees in favour of those with subsidies as a highly efficient means of cutting their labour costs.

It may be that Professor Snower has already thought of a safeguard against this, but without one the scheme stands to expand the social security budget that much further, while potentially leaving the total number of jobs within the economy unchanged.

Yours sincerely,


London, W14

13 July