Call for £400m Investment in Employability
Three of Scotland’s leading social welfare charities have joined forces to call on the Executive to save up to £400m of public money over 10 years by investing in employability programmes.
Scottish Drugs Forum, Apex Scotland and Scottish Council for the Single Homeless say helping at least 30,000 of Scotland’s most vulnerable people into employment, training and education over a decade would save at least £40m a year in crime and welfare costs in Scotland – and even contribute to Scotland’s economic growth.
The charities have drawn up a joint manifesto outlining their proposal, which is to be presented to deputy enterprise minister Lewis Macdonald and other MSPs.
The projected savings are based on estimates that criminal justice, health and social welfare costs, related to problem drug use alone, costs the economy £35m per annum – a total of £35,000 per person per year and £350m over 10 years.
The charities argue that spending £20m annually to place at least 3,000 homeless, ex-offenders and people recovering from drug problems onto employability programmes each year would cost result in net savings of £400m over 10 years.
The charities’ move comes in the wake of concern over the future funding of employability programmes for the hardest-to-reach groups in Scotland following signals from Scottish Enterprise it intends to concentrate its efforts on supporting those ‘closer’ to the jobs market back into work.
The New Futures Fund – the Scottish Enterprise pilot funding strand supporting employability projects since 1998 – is due to end in March next year.
‘The Executive needs to be visionary,’ the charities declared in a statement today. ‘Invest to save must be the approach.
‘If we limit employability programmes only to those closest to the labour market, we will miss a massive opportunity to improve the circumstances of a very substantial number of people.’