Letter: Taxpayers should be happy to subsidise the unemployed

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Philpott and the Employment Policy Institute have been offering sane solutions to the problem of unemployment for a decade and a half, so far with limited success. Even so, we need more than just the expansion of schemes for the long-term unemployed, valuable as they are.

Dr Philpott presents job creation subsidies and work-sharing measures as alternatives. The Gli Amici group of personnel professionals sees them as complementary measures. A job creation subsidy, paid to existing employers in the private and public sectors, would be paid for additional jobs. This would be for extra jobs, not for taking on only the long-term unemployed.

These additional jobs could be created by expanding business, but they could also be created by work-sharing measures. Technological advance ought to give working people the benefit of more leisure, but at the moment we do not share leisure equitably: we give it all to the unemployed, who would much prefer to have less of it.

At present, the whole emphasis is on the short-term gains to be had from redundancies and other cost-cutting measures. This, merely transfers the problem from the company to the state. It should only be the last resort of any company which has any regard for the long-term interests of the community. We need a new emphasis on expanding activities to make productive use of surplus employees and on sharing the gains from technological advice.

David Bell

Ware, Hertfordshire