Prisoners are to be asked to fill up UK labour shortages like HGV driver vacancies as the Government hopes to to plug the skills gaps within the economy
Dominic Raab has told LBC that he wants to draft in British ex-offenders and existing prisoners in order to support the economy instead of relying on foreign labour’s “old addiction”.
The deputy prime minister and justice secretary has said that he believes the offer for a second chance wold encourage prisoners away from a life of crime and will protect the public.
He is hosting an employers’ summit with the view of recruiting more ex-offenders to companies, claiming that they work hard because it’s their second chance.
This comes after Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted that there will not be another nationwide lockdown following an NHS leader warning the Prime Minister that ‘Plan B’ Covid restrictions must be enforced immediately in order to prevent the country from “stumbling into a winter crisis”.
Mr Raab told LBC’s political editor Theo Usherwood: “The call centres, the HGV companies, those with shortages, those who are recruiting and can’t get British staff from outside prison to do the job – why shouldn’t we actually say, do you know what, this is plugging some staff shortages, this is helping these people to go straight and this is cutting reoffending?
“So I say to the critics, look, I can demonstrate it works, this is making your community and the public safer – this is just win-win. It’s smart policy and it’s smart politics.”
Prisoners in the UK who have been put behind bars and currently face long spells or life in jail are not due to become part of this scheme.
While Mr Raab has said that the justice system ought to be “firm and robust”, he has said that he wanted to implement what works to reduce reoffending, and concentrate on those towards the end of their jail term.
“If we give ex-offenders, the vast majority of whom will be released from prison, if we give them skin in the game, if we give them hope, if we give them something to lose, they’re much much more likely to go straight and that’s good for society, it’s good for the public because it cuts crime.
“So this is frankly all about, for me, what works and public protection.”
The Brexit-supporter has estimated that there are over a million vacancies in the UK that require filling, but he dismissed the claims that leaving the European Union was the reason for a lack of HGV lorry drivers, citing problems on the continent, in China and in the US.
Schemes that involve accelerated HGV licensing and more visas have been offered in order to deal with the national lorry driver shortage, which has caused disruption to the nation’s fuel supply at forecourts and some empty shelves.
This comes after the boss of Arla Foods, the country’s biggest dairy supplier, has revealed that it is facing inflation pressures from higher energy. Ash Amirahmadi, the managing director of Arla Foods, also spoke about the concern caused by driver shortages.
But Dominic Raab has said that he wanted the economy to wean itself off from “cheap, unskilled labour” from other and instead start paying Brits more.
The Government is also “being very careful” about which prisoners are eligible for the work scheme.
“People want to see offenders do some honest toil to work their way back to social acceptance and I think those offenders are (as well),” he told LBC, adding that the Lyons Haulage firm he had spoken to reported it never had a problem with an ex-prisoner.
The minister added that one offender told him he viewed the job offer as a “chance to set things right”.