The first 31 recruits – who were said to have stood to lose around £100 a week – start this month in full- or part-time jobs on or above the London living wage, the council said. The jobs will be in Greenwich parks and open spaces and will involve street cleaning, recycling and enforcement as well as “town-centre management”.
However, it hasn’t been made clear how long these jobs will last, where the money is coming from to fund them or how the people’s benefits might be affected.
Council leader Chris Roberts said: “The development of this scheme demonstrates very clearly that the majority of people are desperately keen to get back into work. Far from the media caricature, we are dealing with parents who love their children and want to get off benefits and into work. All they need is the opportunity to do so.”
He added: “In Greenwich we have a proud record for helping local people gain the skills necessary to secure work. In all, we’ve helped over 12,000 residents back into the jobs market via our award-winning local labour scheme. These new jobs will not only benefit the hundreds of families involved. All residents and visitors to our borough will notice a further improvement in how we keep our streets and communities safe and clean.”
The scheme was said to have played a part in the Labour-controlled local authority recently being named Council of the Year. However, under a heading “Celebrating snouts in the trough”, Greenwich Conservatives pointed out that the council had spent £4,000 attending the awards ceremony.
The Tories said the council spent £3,700 on hiring two tables and £260 on a bus to transport guests. This was on top of the time spent preparing a submission for the competition and presenting the bid to judges.
Spencer Drury said: “Given the costs involved in terms of time and money, I wonder if Greenwich won simply because they were the only ones who were prepared to waste resources on this competition. At this time of austerity, in my opinion a little more sensitivity when spending tax-payers money would be sensible.”