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Dole money helps to fund jobs for jobless

Long-term jobless in a small Brittany commune are being given jobs funded in part by their unemployment benefit in a test on cutting dole queues.

Pipriac, Ille-et-Vilaine, is one of 10 communes testing the Territoire zéro chômeur (Zero jobless) plan that has seen a business created and employing 37 people who had been jobless for several years.

Working with the mairie and region, the business, called Tezea, aims to have 60 staff by the end of next month.
Zéro chômeur project head Denis Prost said: “We aim to be able to offer work to any long-term unemployed person who wants to work. As we are not specialised in any one sector we can take on projects businesses do not have money, skills or time to handle.

“Staff are paid the Smic minimum wage and one challenge is to be able to offer viable work at low cost while not taking work from other businesses. But that is one of the experiment aims, to see how we handle that.

“No one is forced to join the scheme and there may be many reasons for them to refuse but another experiment aim is to see how we, and they, handle that – if there is a stigma.”

Mr Prost said the business was 70% self-funded with the shortfall being made up by funding for the project. “In real terms, long-term un­employment costs €36billion a year due to the benefits paid with a third of the cost also being the loss of the social charges employers pay.

“We are redirecting part of these costs towards funding jobs that will give a real benefit to the people involved and get them working again.”

The new workers, based in the well-named Rue de l’Avenir, (Street of the Future), have been retrained in skills such as wood- cutting, park maintenance and recycling – but can also come up with ideas of how to use their own skills. They do jobs like mulching for a gardener, collecting goods for recycling and also have a truck for selling local products door-to-door.

France has 10million jobless, with 2.5million not in work for more than a year, and the project seeks ways to cut this.

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