While most of us will be getting back to work after the Christmas break, there are still those out there who are enjoying a never-ending holiday at our expense.Just like the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey who declared “what’s a weekend?”, long-term benefit claimants have no concept of getting themselves out of the house to do a hard day’s graft. The “Shameless” generation of sponger are a drain on society and the Britain’s debt-ridden public purse. Among the country’s essential resolutions for 2012, one has to be to sort the problem out and create capable people who can afford to support themselves and contribute through paying taxes. The Prime Minister has said this week that he aims to drive layabouts back into work through a £200m scheme designed to help “troubled families”. I was interested in the idea of getting businesses involved to give them the skills they need. Charities and private-sector firms will get funding to teach people on benefits stuff such as CV writing and timekeeping. I would go a lot further. I would force big companies to provide long-term claimants with work placements so they understand what it’s like to be in employment. It would be a gesture of goodwill and corporate social responsibility that would benefit the whole country. Without showing any kind of sympathy for benefit spongers, if they have no skills, how can they compete for jobs? I was chatting with my HR manager about our recruitment plans for this year and he tells me we are getting, on average, more than 600 applications per job advert! You can understand why these scroungers won’t put themselves back into the job market if that’s the competition they’ll face. So, we have to go further than handing out cuddles and reassurance if we are to transfer these long-term claimants from the living room to the shop floor. They need real-life skills that not only make them functioning members of society, but also valuable members of the country’s workforce. While we are in this current economic situation, the responsibility should fall on the UK’s largest companies. They can afford it – maybe they can use some of the money they’ve reportedly been let off paying to HMRC? Charlie Mullins launched Pimlico Plumbers in 1979 with just a bag of tools and an old van bought at auction. The company now has more than 133 professional plumbers, 35 support staff and a £15m turnover.
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