Employment Ministry activation projects for the most vulnerable in society have not worked, according to a report from the National Auditors on the effect of the system on ‘cash benefit recipients unready for the job market’.
The group concerned includes the most vulnerable in society who are not just unemployed but also have other social or addiction problems.
The cost of the system for this group is in the order of DKK 2-3 billion each year, but the survey seems to show that it has no effect.
In fact, the system appears to be counter-productive, in that those who are not involved in activation projects, appear to get jobs, or are able to support themselves better than those who have been in the system.
“This is harsh criticism. The system has not been re-programmed following the economic crisis. It just continues under the ‘open door’ motto. Extremely naïve not to be able to see something else is needed,” says Aalborg University Department of Economics, Politics and Public Administration Prof. Henning Jørgensen.
His colleague Prof. Michael Svarer of the School of Economics and Management at the University of Aarhus agrees this particular group is a problem, the solution to which has not been found elsewhere.
“The results suggest that what this group needs is not more of what it already has,” says Svarer adding: “And perhaps one should rein in the very expensive things that don’t seem to be working”.
Auditor criticism comes in the wake of general discontent with the activation system among unions, politicians and the public.
Some 1,700 people have written to the Education Minister on the subject, and the media has described activation projects in which jobless people have been told to find their ‘inner bird’, have been sent to work in a brothel or have had to build pasta towers.
“The fact we have an activation system that doesn’t work is extremely serious. It’s assembly line activation,” says Socialist people’s Party Labour Market Spokesman Eigil Andersen, adding he intends to call the Employment Minister into council.
“The problem is in local government. No-one has ever said that they should send people into activation where they just sit and play patience,” he adds.
Employment Minister Inger Støjberg says that the auditor criticism is harsher than there are grounds for.
Although she admits that there are issues that can be changed, she says the report only deals with those who have been sent into activation rather than groups who either have jobs or who find jobs by the time their deadline for activation arrives.
“I am responsible for all groups and not just a single one. I would like to stress that even though people’s lives have gone awry, it is vital not to forsake them. So I will continue the policy we have,” Støjberg says.
“It is important to take off the spotlight, put the floodlights on and look at the entire system and not just one group,” she says.