Minister's praise for New Work ProgrammeBy Linda Fort
September 13, 2011
Work and pensions minister Chris Grayling came to Reading last Tuesday and met a self-employed dolls’ house maker.
Andrew Hogg, 55, comes to Reading to take part in the coalition Government’s new Work Programme run by Maximus in Greyfriars Street.
Maximus receives its Government funding after it places people in work or helps them set up in business for themselves.
Mr Hogg – who was made redundant as an HGV driver five years ago – is turning his hobby of making dolls’ houses into a business.
He said selling his creations at £50 a time when they take two to three weeks to make was not yet a living wage.
But he added: “As I get better known and people appreciate that these are authentic and unique, I will be able to charge more, I am sure.”
Mr Hogg, of Deepcut in Surrey, creates his doll’s houses entirely from recycled materials which he gets from his local tip.
The minister also met Christine Allen, 54, of Ledbury Drive in Calcot, who worked as a cleaner in private houses until she lost all her work at the start of the recession.
She said: “I had been out of work for 18 months and I thought I was finished. I didn’t think anyone would want to employ me.
“But Maximus has been really helpful.” She praised David Woods, the employment consultant at Maximus: “It is all down to David really. I had lost it really when I came here a month ago.”
Maximus – part of an Australian company – specialises in carrying out Government programmes to get long-term unemployed people back into work.
It has been up and running in Reading for two months.
Mr Grayling, who describes the Work Programme as a “dating agency for jobs”, told getreading there were about 28 Work Programme projects across the country provided by different organisations.
He said: “The important thing to remember is that they don’t get paid until they have helped someone into work and helped them to stay there for a time.”
Reading East MP Rob Wilson said: “I am very impressed with what I have seen this morning at Maximus.
“With plenty of jobs still available in the Reading area, the company has every chance of getting long-term unemployed people into work and supporting them to stay there.
“I think that payment by results focuses the mind and the service offered and will ensure Maximus supports and motivates its customers.
“I wish them great success.”
Maximus has seen 400 Job Seekers – referred by the Job Centre – in its first two months and so far helped 12 into self-employment and 37 into employment. It offers support, advice and training.