Thursday, May 20, 2010


According to the Welsh Assembly Government,

Proact provides training for employees who are on short time working, and helps companies retain skilled staff who may otherwise be made redundant. It is only available to businesses which have introduced short time working and face the threat of redundancies”.

If “threat of redundancy” is the key measure for triggering ProAct support, then surely the majority of companies would have been required, by law, to notify the Redundancy Payments Service of a proposal to dismiss 20 or more employees as redundant at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less.

The important term here is that the term "proposing to dismiss" does not mean that an employer has to have formulated definite plans for redundancies.

Even where an employer is considering two options (which would be the case when considering Pro-Act), and only one of which involves redundancies, then the obligation to consult still applies. Consultation commences once the employer has adopted a specific proposal involving redundancies. It is not enough to wait until the proposals reach the stage where they could be implemented.

Therefore, I would assume that every company which has more than 20 employees and which was applying for ProAct would have had to have triggered this consultation process before applying for the grant and that would be a matter of public record.

With ministers continuing to make statements such as "through ProAct alone we have helped more than 10,000 people gain new skills and retain their jobs", is WAG now happy to show us clear evidence that most of the jobs it has allegedly saved via this scheme were under threat of redundancy?

ProAct has clearly been a great tool for upskilling employees during the recession. However, politicians need to be careful when they claim that the scheme has “saved” all of the 10,000 employees supported during the scheme from redundancy during the recession, especially if it can be proven otherwise.

I cannot find any evidence that any of the companies publicised as receiving Pro-Act have previously made a press releases stating that jobs were under threat of redundancy prior to receipt of funding. Indeed, Corus - the largest recipient of ProAct funding - made it clear when receiving over £1.1. million of taxpayers funding that "it was not planning to make any further redundancies".

Given that ProAct is the only major tool utilised by WAG during the recession to support businesses, it would be enormously embarrassing to find that the vast majority of workers supported weren't under threat of redundancy after all, and businesses have used this to merely reskill and retrain their employees.

Perhaps one of the journalists who read this blog would like to find out how many firms did actually trigger redundancy consultation prior to receiving ProAct support and, as a result, how many jobs were genuinely 'saved' by this scheme?

I would guess that the total will be very different to that currently being quoted by politicians.