Venstre wants to close job centres and cut education funding
Venstre party boss Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the former prime minister, said that his party has a plan to completely revamp the country’s job centres and change the current government’s policies for getting the unemployed back to work and off of the dagpenge benefits rolls.
Speaking at Venstre’s summer meeting in western Jutland today, Rasmussen said that the unemployed should be allowed to drop publicly-run job centres in favour of private organisations when looking for a job. Rasmussen said that the Venstre proposal would save the government money.
“Our proposed changes to unemployment policies would save 1.5 billion kroner,” Rasmussen said at today’s press conference.
Currently, the unemployed must be registered with their local job centre in order to receive dagpenge. A recent poll found that most Danes would chose a private firm over a council-run centre if they were unemployed, and Rasmussen said allowing them to do so would stimulate competition among job bureaus. Rasmussen proposes paying job agencies based on the number of people who they help find work.
The Venstre proposal would also cut the number of government-run job centres and put more of a focus on jobs in the private sector and less on public wages. There are currently 91 public job centres.
“We must have fewer public employees and more earning their pay from private companies,” said Rasmussen. “We are looking for avenues other than the job centres to find jobs for Danes.”
Rasmussen called on the government to co-operate with the private sector in getting people back on the job.
“The world's largest public sector must not grow any larger,” he said.
The most controversial part of Venstre’s proposal was to completely abolish the right of the unemployed to be educated for up to six weeks on the state’s tab. Even though Venstre severely curtailed the educational component when the party was in power in 2010, it now believes it should be cut completely.
Unions have said for years that retraining is a vital part of getting unemployed Danes back to work, and members of the labour confederation LO were outraged at Rasmussen’s proposal.
“This proposal makes me shake my head,” LO spokesperson Einer Holst told Politiken newspaper. “It is a continuation of the counter-productive employment policies that the Venstre-led government had in place for ten years.”
Holst called it “totally crazy” not to use training as a tool for getting people back to work.
Some observers accused Venstre of riding on the coattails of the government, which announced similar, although not as dramatic, changes to the unemployment system as part of its employment reform package in February.
There are currently 153,000 people unemployed in Denmark.
In other news coming out of Venstre’s summer meeting, Ellen Trane Nørby, the party’s primary spokesperson, was named as its top candidate for the European elections in 2014.